Coming of Age Speculative High School

"Lets go for a walk."

"Don't go past the fence Jerry, you know what happens." Said Kirsty pensively. They were sat again outside the old vinyl shop, sipping lemonade from stripey cans.

"I won't, I just want to see the 'Planes going over. I saw one from Saudia Arabia the other day and one from 'Olland. You should come."

Kirsty put her can down "Nah, thanks Jez but I don't like it out there, not with them new lot mooching about outside the fence. If we go out there, we'll end up in their world. I'm stopping here with the others. Inside."

Jerry shrugged and walked to the top of the defunct escalator and started striding down the slanted steps. The motor stopped ages ago. Everything stopped ages ago. When they decided to stay in the shopping centre.

"Fair enough Kirst, you lot are getting pale faces though. You'll end up looking like ghosts."

Another youngster named Matt, snorted at Jerry. "Very funny Jezza, you nerd. Go on, sling yer 'ook. We want to look at the inside of the shop."

Kirsty and Matt, and seven or eight of the other kids, pushed through the door of the music store and went inside. Jerry shook his head at Matt's quip, and got to the bottom of the escalator, through the huge swing doors and out into the open sunlight. 

Everything was fine being a residual and Jerry certainly did not want to go beyond the fences. That would mean he would step into his future self. That was what Kirsty was afraid of too. But Jerry was not to be ruled by fear.

The fifty year old Jerry now strolled into view. Outside the perimeter fences. This Jerry, was alive and well in the present. Behind the perimeter, fourteen year old Jerry shuddered, he had seen himself and another group of blokes walking past the fences to a big new shopping complex with pubs and bars and noisy screens with football blaring out.

He had looked at himself in pity and shock.

'Bleedin' ell. Look at the state of me! I am not going into that body. I'm stoppin' ere.' He had thought as the men trooped in all staring at some weird gadgets in their hands and shouting stuff like 'Tagged yer.' and 'Put it on Facebook.' Whatever that meant.

To Jerry, it may has well have been a foreign language and what were them bloody things they were all obsessed with? 'Not my problem.' He mused, and sat on a broken down graffitied old wall with his lemonade.

Suddenly, he was pelted from the complex above. Cassette tapes and 12" vinyl records were thrown and frisbeed at him. He was hit on the head by a wide range of music, and a 'Classic Hits' LP nearly scythed through his neck. Raucous laughter came from within the building from the other residuals.

"Oiiee, you little gits, what yer doin' that for?" Shouted Jerry. 

Kirsty, Carla, Steve and bloody Matt. All laughed their heads off as more vintage retro equipment, rained out of the windows.

"Can't play the bloody things can we?!" Shouted another girl called Stacey.

"Ere, if you like 'planes so much, yer can have this one.. Nerd!" Shouted the weaselly, cocky Matt, as he launched a huge paper aeroplane constructed from a Men a glossy giant 'Rock Greats' poster. It drifted awkwardly to the ground.

"Bloody waste. That'd have gone up in my room.. If we could have stayed fourteen forever." He picked up the poster and looked at the band on it. "I don't think they will be old people, not ever. They're too cool to get old."

Jerry saw all the cassettes and records that would have cost a years pocket money, plus idd jobs, to save up for.

Now the residuals were chucking them about like stones. It was true though. When they had the choice to split from themselves and stay here, a lot of the kids thought it was a fantastic idea. A lot didn't and send it was voodoo magic and went home to their families..

And began to age.

Over Jerry's head, a real aeroplane now flew over, it was quite low and dappled in red, white and blue. He had his binoculars from the catalogue shop. Not like he'd stolen them. Everywhere was empty, derelict.

It was apparently called an Airbus A220 and across the side it was emblazoned with the logo 'QuickHols.Com'. Underneath, in smaller writing was 'From A to B in under 3'. Presumably hours or days or whatever that meant.

Jerry admired aircraft but would have been much happier seeing the 747 Jumbo's and the Tridents and perchance a diverted Concorde.

That was the trouble though. It was meant to stay the same when they said they were staying in their year forever. How were they to know that everything inside the perimeter would stop and beyond it, everything would just go 'Flippin' mental', as Kirsty had put it.

It was just as well as when it became apparent to the residuals that their gamble was backfiring, they had put their heads together and thought of their permanent fourteen year old futures. They had got their wish to stay young but their little world around them began to crumble and stop working. It was bittersweet.

They had set about planting seeds for fruit and vegetables and learned how to make bread and cakes and those new pizza things from the cookbooks in the big stationers.The water still ran from some of the taps in the staff rooms of the shops and the river was always there, out the back.

No kettles though. No electric. They had to boil the water over a fire for hot drinks. There was still plenty of tea and coffee and cocoa and stuff, but it would run out, or go out of date. Same with the juice and pop.

So they tried stuff, like dandelion or mint tea from the leaves. "Errr.. Its bluddy 'orrible.." Sammy had said. But they got used to it and began to ration the luxury stuff. A day would come that they would be on this new natural stuff forever.

Jerry wrote the registration of the aeroplane down in his notepad and was about to head back in to give the others a bollocking for their musical onslaught, when them blokes appeared again, beyond the fence.

"Its me again." He whispered to himself. "Fat slob, 'ow the 'ell did I get like that. I'm not leaving now, that's for sure. Old git. No way! Not for me." Jerry spotted another familiar but older face in the passing gang of old people. 

"Oh Matt mate, you deserve that though for all yer bullying.. Your grey and decrepit my old mate, ha!"

Jerry saw his fifty year old self with Matt. Carla was there too, and some others that were never in their gang. Kirsty was not with them. He wondered what had become of her. 

'She's sensible. Prob'ly married with kids. 'Oo wants that though?' He pondered. The decision to separate and become residuals was looking a better option. If only stuff worked. If onlybeverywhere was not so.. Derelict.

Jerry was crestfallen as he saw old himself meddling with that stupid gadget again.

"One of them's gonna get bluddy run over. Starin' at them screens. What are them things? Little tellys or sumat? They don't seem to care about 'owt else. Knobs."

Matt was tall, gaunt, skinny and bald now and wore a denim jacket that looked as though he never took it off. He also looked like he never washed and swigged from a nasty looking lager can, swearing and chanting football songs as he walked with the others.

Carla said to him "O.M.G Matt, will you just S.T.F.U. Yer still a right knob aren't yer."

Jerry had no idea what fifty year old Carla meant but it sounded like she was bollocking Matt. 'Good, he's a bluddy tosspot.' He thought.

"Some things don't change Matt, stupid pleb. Bollocks to this, its like Back to the bluddy Future, they look like robots or sumat. I'm going back in."

That was Jerry's excercise and sunlight done for today and he went back through the swing doors and grabbed a tin of corned beef from the 'SupaSave' and some stale Pick n Mix from 'Fanshaws Confectionery' and strolled up the escalators frozen incline once again.

He didn't know how he felt really. Seeing himself chubby and with grey hair and a beard and weird clothes on and staring at that gadget thing like all his old cronies. Swiping and tapping the telly things."

"It might be OK I s'pose. Might be shit though. Might have a Missus 'oo can't cook or let me watch the footy. That's if footy is still on and they've not replaced it with them stupid portable plastic fings.

Nah, I'll stay 'ere a bit but I might go back if Kirsty and Steve and that come with me. Least I'll know someone when I'm that fat old tramp, messing about on that telly thing."

Jerry went up the ramp and they were all sat eating a mixture of what they could get their hands on and reading magazines. Smash Hits, Radio Times, NME.

"Any planes today Jez? I might come tomorrow. I'm getting a bit fed up with all this btoken stuff. Want sumat to do." Said Kirsty, munching a cold tinned steak and kidney pie.

"Just the one, but I'd never seen it before, so it was alright." Jerry replied.

"See owt else?"

"Nah, bit borin' really Kirst."

Jerry sat and ate his corned beef wondering about which future he would choose.


Andrew Evans © 2023

January 13, 2023 20:44

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