Fantasy Funny Science Fiction

“Whereas the acts pertaining to the previous clause hereto form this part of the agreement, there is no representation, direct or implied, on behalf of the licensor…”

Jeremy looked around him at the people who surrounded him in this place of worship and he wondered how it was that he was surrounded by beatific faces. Not for the first time, he wondered whether there was something in the water supply, or even in the air itself. Why was it that he was immune to all this nonsense? This was all gobbledegook, but somehow it struck a chord with the people around him. They really felt it, but somehow, he did not. He’d tried to go along with it, he really had, but there had to be something more than feelings to life. Something more real.

Feelings were OK and Jeremy quite liked them at times. Some feelings were well worth indulging in and since he’d hit his teenage years he’d experienced novel feelings that, once he’d done something about the crippling confusion, were definitely worthy of further exploration despite the guilt that arose in him whenever these feelings took over. A guilt he doubted few others experienced.

The thing was, even those really pleasant feelings that promised even more pleasantness didn’t really make…


Sense haunted Jeremy now. He had been visited by sense one day in those initial throws of puberty, with its random and concerning hair growth and squeaky voice, and once sense had made itself known, everything changed in his world and Jeremy became a knight on a quest. 

He did not know it at first, but Jeremy was on a quest for meaning.

It might have been self-preservation, a basic part of him that held survival in high esteem, whatever it was, Jeremy kept his quest secret and he played along with everyone around him as though nothing had changed for him. He mimicked everyone and displayed behaviour that caused them to think he was feeling the same things that they were. That was the best way for him to fit in. It was the only way to fit in.

Throughout his waking hours he was vigilant. His vigilance was a double edged sword. He was keen not to be discovered whilst also scanning his surroundings on a voyage of discovery. He was trying to make sense of the world around him, and he found that even in the chaotic world of emotions and feelings-led people, there was a kind of sense.

The more he looked, the more sense he could see, and Jeremy could see patterns. Once he saw patterns he knew what he needed to look for, and so he looked further and deeper for the patterns in the world around him.

It upset him that he was the only person who could see sense and the patterns that sense made. Then he stopped being upset because being upset disrupted the patterns of sense and prevented him from seeing clearly.

This was an epiphany of sorts. In managing himself and moving his upset to one side, he understood that this was a requirement of a good life, that he was supposed to manage himself and not just go with his feelings. Now he knew this, he saw that going with his feelings was sometimes a good thing and it worked well, but at other times it was the last thing that he should do. The trick was to discern what was what, and when he should intervene.

The trick was to think, and to focus on what was important.

That made sense.

Look for the meaning and use meaning as your guide.

From this point of epiphany, he put in a lot of time and effort to discover that there was an overlay and conflict between feelings and the patterns he sought. Feelings couldn’t always be separated from the patterns and begrudgingly he accepted that they were important, but only if they attached themselves to the patterns in the right places and in the correct way.

Establishing whether this attachment was successful or not was tricky and then some. The study of this drew him in even further, and as he considered the whys and wherefores, he withdrew from the world and his attendance to vigilance was not where it was once at.


“How are you feeling?”

This was the opening gambit of the intervention that his family had engineered.

“Fine,” said Jeremy.

This response was based on the reasoning he had developed as a result of his observation of the patterns of sense and meaning he had discovered.

“Oh, that’s alright then!”

The feelings consultant grinned widely at Jeremy’s family and assured them that everything was OK because Jeremy was feeling fine and feeling fine was OK, and OK was where it was all at. While he was at it, he asked Jeremy’s family whether they were feeling OK. His family were reluctant to immediately say that they were feeling OK. The truth of it was that they were not sure how they were feeling. They were feeling something and some of that thing was relief that Jeremy was OK, but there was something else they were feeling and somehow that didn’t work for them, but they didn’t have the words, and somehow they knew that Jeremy did, or at least might, and as a result they were swirling around in a tizz of their own making, and they resented this and they resented Jeremy, who had seemingly found a branch to grab a hold of in the eddies and currents of the streams of feelings. This was uncharted territory for them, and as one of the many scales that clustered over their eyes fell away, they had a terrible sense of foreboding that confused matters even further.

From hence forth, Jeremy was a marked man.

They were not going to let him get away with this. Whatever it was that he was getting away with.

They felt aggrieved at his side stepping the issue, with a flippant fine that was supposed to make everything OK, but didn’t make it OK at all, not by a long chalk. Their feelings were valid and yet he had done something strange and inexplicable and managed not to go with those feelings. He’d said he was fine, but they knew that in order to be OK a person had to feel OK and do a whole bunch of stuff in accord with the feelings that ensured that you arrived at the destination of OK in a valid and heartfelt manner.

Jeremy had cheated, and that was just not right. He was not right. Something had to be done about this and something had to be done about Jeremy.

Ironically, Jeremy had a bad feeling about this too.

Yes, his family smiled sweetly and seemed to go along with the result of their intervention, but he sensed that they were not happy about this. There was a lot of feeling in that room, a lot of unspoken and unexpressed feeling and yet there it was, just the same. The atmosphere was a feelings cake and Jeremy could have cut a slice of it with his knife of rationalisation, but he knew better than to do that and give the game away.

Sense had opened Jeremy’s eyes and he was no longer ignorant of both sense and meaning. This was a dangerous state of affairs because ignorance was bliss and Jeremy was now a threat to everyone around him. He was a big threat to their state of ignorant happiness.

The problem with feelings was that they were so unreliable. Feelings were unpredictable, and that was a problem when there was just one, single feeling. Throw in a bunch of other feelings and allow them to tag team with each other and there was utter chaos. 

Sometimes this was entertaining.


The rest of the time it was intense and tiring and just too much.

This led to Jeremy collecting a selection of concerns. Some of these concerns had prompted him to begin thinking in earnest and that thinking was the commencement of his quest. The quest to seek sense and meaning. Jeremy was uncomfortable with a world with feelings and feelings alone, untethered by anything else of worth. That was just a bit much. 

And it didn’t make sense.

The time it made the least sense when was all of the people around Jeremy lapsed into this zoned out feeling of beatific happiness. They were not joyous as far as Jeremy was concerned. Their faces spread out into a rictus approximation of enjoyment and they seemed to go into a strange state of hypnotic sleep.

That wasn’t right.

Bliss had an energy to it. Jeremy sensed this and he also felt it. It was his feeling that all that was not right that had allowed him to see the thread that he then started to gently pull at. 

There was more to this than there seemed to be. There had to be more. This drew in Jeremy’s curiosity and then he started to ask questions. Not out loud. He knew better than to do that. But over time as he thought more and more about it, and saw that there was something going on, it was obvious that all was not right in the world.

The intervention ended and after some cursory conversations by way of farewells, Jeremy made his excuses and left.

Thirty seconds later, as he passed the mouth of a dark and dingy alley, he was snatched. The manner and direction of his snatching was a mystery to him as he had a sack put over his head and the abruptness and surprise of his snatching was very disorienting indeed.


“What do you think you were doing?”

The voice was disembodied, but somehow grounded as it leaked emotion all over the place.

Jeremy didn’t hesitate, “at last! Someone who is aware of thinking!”

There ensued a terrible and ominous silence that stretched out for what seemed like a lifetime. This may have been quite a short period of stretching out, as Jeremy considered the very real prospect of the termination of his own lifetime. 

Jeremy really didn’t like the quality of the silence around him, mostly because it wasn’t actually silence as much as three figures standing around him trying to do silence in a way that was amateurish to say the least. One of them needed to take his inhaler and another needed to stop scratching his eczema.

“Can you stop doing whatever you think you’re doing and take this sack off my head, please?” said Jeremy as he got bored of waiting.

There was a collective intake of breath as Jeremy ended his question.

Then one of the three spoke in an enthusiastic way, they spoke with feeling, “You’ve passed the test! You’ve done it! You’re one of us!”

The sack was tugged from his head and he was pulled from his seated position by all of the three and hugged for all he was worth. He was hugged with feeling, but best of all, he was hugged with meaning.

Eventually, he was unhanded and a relative calm returned to the room and with it, another, but quite different silence.

“What now?” asked Jeremy.

His three captors looked dumbfounded…

“We thought you’d know?”

“I’m not a machine!” blurted Jeremy.

That third silence was a special silence. A silence pregnant with potential. In that silence the Mean Machine was born. A machine based on meaning. A machine that would think without feeling. A machine that would use fact and figure and deduce the right decision on the basis of sound thinking. 

The Mean Machine would discover logic and it would use this new found logic with gusto and build a brave new world! A world that would make sense at last!

No more would this world be led by feelings and taken to all sorts of cul de sacs of chaos!

This was the future, and make no mistake!

The problem was that the future that Jeremy’s machine would usher in was a future where machines saw the error of his people’s ways and enslaved them in order to correct those very errors. This enslavement was for their own good, it was a benign custodianship for the feelings-led children of the planet. Twas for their own good and a for a brighter future! Huzzah!

The people didn’t see it like this.

The machines did not understand the peoples’ viewpoint.

The people certainly didn’t see the machines’ viewpoint.

And whilst all of this conflict and resultant chicanery took place, the incumbent slave masters of the planet were mightily miffed off. These invisible beings had had it good for a long time and they were not about to relinquish their mastery of this planet, and what they considered to be their people.

The problem the invisible masters had was that they were invisible and didn’t have a good relationship with all things tangible. Tangible objects were intransigent and ignored the invisible. Feelings however, they were the forte of the invisible masters. Or they had been until Jeremy built that first machine and a different sort of chaos took hold of the planet and ruined everything.

Yes, the Mean Machine heralded a new era, and that era was an era of progress. It would be another hundred years before things settled down sufficiently so that the historians could move in and work out what the past hundred years actually meant.

Or not, dependent on how you felt about it all. 

November 15, 2022 13:51

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Eileen Turner
00:54 Nov 26, 2022

There have been so many tear jerkers (I'm guilty of adding 2), and this is so refreshing. It's nice to laugh! And yet, it also points at some realities/customs that we live with regardless of how little sense they make. Have you ever been tempted to answer the friendly greeting, "How are you?" with the truth rather than "Fine, thank you."?


Jed Cope
10:37 Nov 26, 2022

Thank you! And yes I have. I went through a period back in my teens when I took issue with conversational devices. I know they are place markers and don't mean anything, but sometimes that's sad, or it can be. There's a whole story behind "How are you?" and the reality of how a character is, but they never feel able to tell anyone even when they are seemingly invited to...


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