‘It’s obvious, man! The aliens are messing with us by bombarding the planet with ultra-sonic waves. Look at the graph.’ Ned passed the sheet to Simon, who scanned the wavy lines on the page with feigned understanding.
‘Mmm, interesting,’ he mumbled.
‘Yeah. Can’t you see it makes perfect sense?’ Ned’s excited voice rose above the rest of the chatter in the room. ‘I’ve been tracking these waves for a few years. Look at this,’ he jabbed a few square inches of the graph with his index finger. ‘This is the period leading up to Brexit – see how the waves peak during those weeks? And this one,’ he added, jabbing a section further along the graph, ‘is the period leading up to Trump’s nomination as Presidential Candidate. See – there’s another peak?’
‘Right… yeah,’ Simon mumbled again.
‘No, buddy, I don’t think you’re really getting the magnitude of it,’ Ned said. ‘The aliens have been bombarding our planet with a particular vibration of sound that is just outside our hearing and that’s why so many people have been making these dumb-ass decisions! Just wait and see, as the next few months pass and the sound waves dissipate, they’ll all wake up again and wonder what the hell got into them.’
‘Ah, right,’ Simon said, finally getting what this intense new acquaintance was getting at. But it didn’t explain why he – and thousands of others – had neither voted for Brexit nor for Trump, and no doubt Ned would have an explanation for that too, if Simon had the inclination to pursue the conversation further. Which he didn’t.
Unfortunately, Ned did.
‘Can you imagine what other stupid moves folks have made under the influence of these malificent extra-terrestrial forces? You’ve got to insulate, man, insulate! I never make a decision without going into my back room. I’ve lined it with a special metal that reflects a range of vibration so at least I know there’s one place I can go where my decisions are not being affected by alien forces.’
He rolled his graph up again and tucked it with the utmost care into a long cardboard tube.
‘Not that I have anything against aliens,’ he continued. ‘In fact,’ he nudged Simon, ‘to be honest, I’m pretty sure I’m part Arcturian. That’s why the guys call me Ned the Nerdy Alien. But the Arcturians are good guys. Kinda like the Sirians. They’re not the ones trying to mess us up.’
He stopped and eyed Simon curiously.
‘I wonder what alien gene you have?’ he said, half to himself. ‘We all have them.‘
But the conversation came to an abrupt halt as a tall elderly man clapped his hands loudly for attention and everyone found a seat in the circle. Simon chose one next to a large woman, dressed entirely in black, who seemed a safer bet than Nerdy Ned.
‘Hi, I’m Angelic Angela,’ she whispered as he sat down, leaning her large frame in to kiss him on the cheek.
‘Simon,’ he said. ‘Just Simon’.
He was beginning to wonder if the inspired moment that had led him to act on the small ad for this evening’s meeting had, in fact, been a moment of madness brought on by an over-dose of Agador Spartacus’ advice from the spirit realm. Speaking of whom, where was Agador? This should have been the perfect gathering for him, full of folk who were overly-fond of incense, crystals and feathers, judging by the overwhelming aroma, sparkle and flutter in the room. He felt inordinately ordinary, with his jeans, t-shirt and short hair.
‘Welcome all to our regular Psychics Anonymous,’ the tall man announced loudly, silencing the last few murmurs. ‘And a special welcome to Simon this evening, who is joining us for the first time.’
Simon lifted his bum off the seat a few inches, nodded at the small group and sat again. There was a general round of applause, which he took to be for his having joined the gathering as opposed to being for his rather lame bum-lifting. He wasn’t fond of public appearances and having to stand fully in front of a group was too much on this occasion.
‘As it’s your first meeting, Simon, we thought it might be useful to have one of our longer-standing members talk us through their experience of PA – how they came to us and what it has done for them. Angela, would you mind?’
Angela straightened up, obviously comfortable in the limelight, and leaned forward, arms on her knees, looking around the circle. Her black hair hung in curtains over her face, hiding most of her pale cheeks and blackened eyes until, with a heavily-adorned hand, she pushed it back over her shoulder.
‘Well, I think you all know the story by now. It’s been pretty much the same for all of us, one way or another. But I’ll keep it short – y’all know how much I like an audience!‘
She grinned at the group.
‘So…when I first showed up here – it must be over seven years ago – I was just Angela. In the same way that Simon has introduced himself to me this evening as just Simon. Remember those days, my friends – when you were ‘just’ who everyone else thought you were?’
There was an outbreak of nodding heads and Angela joined in, nodding earnestly along with them.
‘That about sums up why I came here. I thought I was weird. I thought there was something wrong with me for thinking there was more to me than ‘just’ Angela. I was in a very lonely, very scary place – talking to things I couldn’t see, seeing things I couldn’t explain. I was hovering on the brink between sanity and lunacy. At least, that’s how it felt.’
More nodding of heads, supplemented with general murmuring of agreement and one ‘You said it, sister‘ from a particularly enthusiastic head-nodder sitting opposite.
‘Then I heard about Psychics Anonymous and their twelve step programme.’
The elegant, elderly man walked over and put a hand on Angela’s shoulder.
‘Perhaps, Angela, now is a good time to remind ourselves of what the twelve step programme is? Simon, perhaps you’d like to read it for us?’
Simon, feeling most definitely like he perhaps wouldn’t like to read it, nevertheless took the velum sheet he was handed and cleared his throat.
‘I’ll do my best,’ he said, his voice croaking with nerves.
Another clearing of the throat and he was ready.
‘Number 1. We admit that we are powerless over our Gift – that our lives are unmanageable if we don’t yield to it.
‘Number 2. We believe that a Power greater than ourselves is behind our Gift.
‘Number 3. We accept that we are sane although much of society may deem us otherwise.
‘Number 4. We make a decision to turn our lives over to that Greater Power, however we choose to describe or understand it.
‘Number 5. We accept that the Gift is not just ours but is a Gift to all and must be respected as such.
‘Number 6. We make a searching and fearless inventory of how the Gift manifests in us.
‘Number 7. We humbly ask the Greater Power to remove all obstacles that prevent us from expressing the Gift fully.
‘Number 8. We make a list of all persons harmed by our previous withholding of our Gift and become willing to make amends.
‘Number 9. We make direct amends to such people where possible, except when it would injure them or others to do so.
‘Number 10. We will continue to take personal inventory and to promptly make amends if we are ever tempted to withhold the Gift again.
‘Number 11. We will seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with that Greater Power, praying only for an understanding of how we can express the Gift.
‘Number 12. Having gained the spiritual understanding that the Gift is a divine one and to be respected as such, we will try to carry this message to others who may benefit from it and to practice these principles in all our affairs.’
As he came to the end of the twelve steps, Simon’s throat constricted once more but this time from emotion born of understanding. His was a gift and what had he done with it? Doubted it, sold it, tried to dismiss it when it didn’t pay him as he thought it should? It had taken Agador Spartacus months to even communicate with him, so resistant had he been to allowing the divine into his life. And what about Eva, his family, his former colleagues and all the others who had suffered because he had dishonoured the Gift?
He swallowed hard. The room fell silent, sharing his moment of breakthrough.
He looked up from the list and his wet eyes met Angelic Angela’s.
‘Well, ‘just’ Simon,’ she smiled, ‘Are you ready to step into your power? Ready to be Psychic Simon, the man with the Gift?’
(Image: By mr_t_77 from WV, USA (ADSCN3692) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)