Now We Are Green
 
Preview
 
 
Prologue
 
 
Bill Tarkovsky: slouched on a sofa with the newspaper falling to pieces in his hands.
The wind gusted and the whole house shook.
Bill abandoned the sofa, dropped his newspaper to the floor, walked to the window and stood there, gazing out.
‘I don’t like the look of this,’ he said.
 
Rachel Tarkovsky: concentrating on her homework when the wind began to howl. Hail rattled on the great panes of glass making up the back wall of the house, leapt from the patio slabs as if the stone burnt to the touch. When the sky silvered and a thunderclap rumbled overhead it sounded like a growl deep in a tiger’s throat, like they were in a tiger’s belly, listening to it growl. Rachel began to say, ‘Well, it doesn’t seem – ’
Meant to say, ‘ – as bad as last week’s storm…’
– but the sound of the thunder drowned her words.
 
Bill Tarkovsky, author of international best-seller The Book of New Creation,pulled open the sliding glass doors. The warm air of the house escaped like an exhalation, the cold air forced itself in. Lightning lit up the sky, shadows leaping from the doorway, racing across the floor, clambering up the walls.
‘Dad?’ Rachel asked.
 
By then her father was already out on the patio, the doors pulled shut behind him, his face lifted up towards the hail. He shrugged off his shirt and tie, dropped them to the ground as though they were burdens he should never have had to endure. Didn’t seem to care about the ferocity of the weather. Didn’t seem to care about the hail or the wind or the cold. He raised his arms to either side, began to spin upon his heels like a children’s toy.
 
Rachel pushed aside her homework, walked to the windows, stood there gazing out. When she put her hand to the glass she felt the drum-rattle impact of a thousand bullets of ice. Her father was a bare-chested bear of a man, abandoning himself to the storm. He was a sodden, bedraggled bear spinning through the wind and hail. Pellets of ice crawled along his shoulders and down his arms, joined the maelstrom that had taken him to its heart. As Rachel pressed her nose to the glass twin cones of mist appeared beneath her nostrils. She brushed them away with the side of her hand. Her father spun faster and faster, as though captured by an invisible tornado, as though he had found himself a whirlwind all of his own. His trousers clung to his legs. His hair flailed across his eyes. In the end he was spinning so quickly his arms were beginning to blur – but Rachel thought she saw him smiling, out there in the storm.
 
And Rachel loved him – loved him passionately – couldn’t help but think how dramatic and poetic and wonderful he looked, spinning like a top in the grip of the wind. At any moment he would take off, would pirouette into the air and tumble away above the branches of the trees.
At any moment, Rachel felt sure, lightning would fork from her father’s fingers and leap into the sky, and fire would blaze from his eyes.
 
1
 
 
 
“The age of reason and imagination will replace the age of selfishness and greed. The wind and the tide, gravity and light, will power our society. Sailing ships, built by the best of human science, will once again carry cargo across our seas. We will wrest control of our technology from the power-hungry and the greedy and create a new world.”
 
                          William Tarkovsky
The Book of New Creation
 
‘Deserts will inherit the Earth…’
                                                       - Wind Chill, June 2013
 
Rachel Tarkovsky, somewhere south of Finchley. Fords, Toyotas, Mercs fumed with resentment as she overtook them on foot, making her way past triply sub-let offices and overcrowded shops. She stopped at the pedestrian crossing, waited for the lights to change. To her left: a Laundromat, a café, a newsagent, a derelict shop. On the opposite side of the street: a pub, a rank of padlocked garages, a bus shelter without any windows. Narrow entrances interrupted the shop fronts, forcing their way into darkness and safety. Narrow alleys between the garages harboured the carcasses of mattresses and broken kitchen units. Half-way through the morning, almost at her destination, and Rachel had eaten next to nothing. She was tired out and wired up, both at the same time. And her shoes hurt. And her backpack weighed a thousand tons.
The lights turned from green to red. A car veered from the outer lane and swerved towards her. It happened too quickly for Rachel to react. The vehicle’s wheels hit the curb and tire rubber squealed against stone. A hubcap shattered; another broke free and spun away on a journey of its own. Then the driver hauled his vehicle back on course, raced eastward across the junction. The cars accelerating towards him from either side were forced to brake. Drivers hammered at their horns.
Rachel gripped the straps of her backpack – asserted a degree of control over the trembling in her hands. There was an aggression here, a sense of conflict. London was at war with itself, even in backwaters like this. When the lights changed she crossed quickly, keeping an eye on the waiting cars. Rovers, Renaults, VWs, Fiats, Audis, Saabs – differently branded yet fundamentally the same – ground their gears like teeth, coughed and spat. Rachel tried to ignore them, followed Western Avenue along to Finchley Road, kept walking until she reached the North Circular.
Then she turned west, with the traffic racing past her like wildebeest, and saw her father’s temple for the first time.
 
The Church of New Creation had no obvious entrance, just rows of windows so dirty they were probably impervious to light. She followed the side of the building towards the far corner, came to a car park occupied by electric cars and a mass of bicycles. Here the church consisted of a steel gate, two storeys high, with a smaller entrance cut into it. Rachel walked to the inner doorway, pushed the doorbell. After a moment a grille crackled into life. A voice asked, ‘Can we help you?’
‘I hope so,’ Rachel said. She looked around for the camera or webcam, then turned to gaze back the way she had come. ‘I’m Rachel Tarkovsky. I’m here to see my dad.’
 
This was her gap year before university.
She had survived four months in Thailand without being mugged or murdered or raped. No one had used her as a decoy or an unwitting courier for drugs. The insurgents in the north of the country had kept themselves to themselves for the duration of her visit and the secessionist bombers in the south had left the tourist resorts un-bombed.
Then two months in France, a month in Belgium, a week on the Isle of Wight.
She had served behind bars, worked in a zoo, learned how to load industrial scale dishwashers. She’d sold theatre tickets on the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle, harvested grapes, worked as a temp.
When not travelling she’d found herself alone. Her girlfriends had all left for university and her boyfriend Peter had remained in Thailand, giving her twenty-four hours notice of the fact that they were no longer an item. ‘There’s something I need to do,’ he said. ‘Something I need to find out. It’s about self discovery, Rachel. It’s about getting to the heart of things and finding out if I’m the sort of person who really has a soul. Go home. You don’t want to stay here all by yourself. I’ll phone. As soon as I get back to the UK.’
‘And when will that be?’
‘That’s not something I can easily answer…’
On the plane home, gazing out at a landscape of ocean and cloud, she had finally managed to cry. She had cried for hours, for most of the flight, ignoring the reassuring murmurs of the lady sitting next to her: huddled up and angry and turned in upon herself. She hadn’t cried for Peter since. She hated this thing men seemed to have about religion. She hated their desperate need for purpose, their need to take hold of meaning with both hands and never let go.
Peter had chosen his direction. He said he hoped she would one day understand.
‘I understand already,’ she told him. ‘It’s easy to understand when someone doesn’t love you any more.’
Then she’d made her way to the travel agency and booked her flight home.
Well, Peter was still out there in Thailand, pretending to be a Buddhist, listening with all his soul for the sound that would finally allow his soul to be still. He had sent her a postcard and a short letter with a photo. In the photo he was dressed in orange and had shaved off his beautiful blond hair. He wrote that he was doing something he had waited all his life for. He said that he thought of her often.
She’d crumpled the letter into a tight ball and discarded it.
That was all that a letter like that deserved.
 
It was getting cold. Rachel asked, ‘Is someone coming?’ but the grille remained silent. ‘Some welcome,’ Rachel said. Then the inner gate creaked open and a young man poked his head into the open air.
‘Rachel?’
‘That’s me.’
‘Rachel Tarkovsky?’
‘None other.’
‘Rachel! Wonderful! Wonderful! Welcome to the Temple! Welcome to shelter from the storm!’ He glanced towards the clouds then waved her in, pulling the gate closed behind them. ‘We’ve been waiting for you,’ he said. ‘– for far longer than you might think!’
Rachel said, ‘I’m sorry I made you wait.’
 
They were standing in an area that had once been a loading bay but was now an oasis of cobbled stone and jungle plants. There were bamboos, orchids, ferns, a pond that glittered in the light falling from skylights high above.
‘What do you think?’ asked her welcoming committee. He was engagingly boyish – freckles and laughing eyes and thin, wispy hair. She liked him straight away.
‘What do I think about… this?’ Rachel waved a hand at the courtyard.
‘Yes!’ The disciple spun round, raised his arms in a gesture of awe. He reminded her of someone – or something – from long ago.
‘I think… it’s beautiful.’
‘And listen!’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘Listen…’
Rachel stood still for a moment, wondering what she was supposed to be listening to, then shook her head. ‘I can’t hear a thing.’
‘Precisely! Just think of the traffic on the other side of this gate – and you can’t hear a thing. There is something very clever about the acoustics in here, something your father has taken advantage of. And here’s another strange thing. When we dug the pond and filled it with water, frogs appeared out of nowhere. Right here in the middle of London. Amazing, don’t you think?’
‘I suppose so.’
He smiled at her. ‘It’s almost enough to make Gaians of us all.’
‘But not quite enough, I hope.’
‘Well, no, of course not. Not nearly enough in fact. We believe in our ability to recreate the world as it should be, based on humanism, sustainability and service – not in a world to which we are somehow mystically bound… But I mustn’t begin by boring you. I’m sure you know quite enough about New Creationism already! First let me take you to your room and you can settle in. Then I’ll show you around. How does that sound?’
Walking over to the pond, Rachel said, ‘That sounds fine.’
Something moved in the water as she approached. ‘You know, I’d hoped my father would be here.’
‘He is here – and I’ve told him you’ve arrived.’
‘But he was too busy – ?’
‘To come and meet you? Perhaps – I don’t know – but don’t be offended. All sorts of stuff is happening just now. Exciting things. In the Middle East. In Scotland. I’m sure he’ll be ready to see you soon… In the meantime… shall I take you to your room?’
‘And Paul?’ Rachel asked. ‘My brother?’
‘Insulation duty. At least, that’s where I think he is.’
Rachel wondered if this was part of the New Creationist technique: not to be here to greet her; to isolate her; to make her feel vulnerable and in need of a friend.
And then to speak to her in a language she didn’t understand…
Once they had undermined her confidence would she lap up the indoctrination of her father’s strange cult just in order to feel loved?
‘Shall I show you to your room?’ her guide asked for the third time.
And this too: repetition segueing into mind control.
Her mother had talked about indoctrination, about brain washing. ‘Cults steal people’s children,’ she had said. ‘They steal their hearts and minds and souls. Don’t let them steal you.’
It must have been difficult for her to let Rachel go, after already losing Paul.
It must have taken a great deal of courage.
 
‘I thought they’d be here to meet me.’
The disciple didn’t answer. He walked to a doorway, waved for her to follow.
Rachel said, ‘I didn’t catch your name…’
‘Graham.’
He didn’t offer to carry her backpack.
The corridor they walked along opened onto rooms without doors. Some contained machines that looked as if they were used for printing, others were stacked with boxes, plastic containers, cabinets. A few had been turned into offices, with desks and computers and telephones, occupied by the clean-cut disciples of New Creation. Graham led her past these to a stairwell, up four flights of stairs, then back along a corridor similar to the one on the ground floor. The rooms here were dormitories though they too had no doors.
Cults dislike privacy, Rachel thought.
Halfway down the corridor her guide stopped, waved at a doorway. ‘This is yours,’ he said. ‘You’re very lucky. Not many of us are given a room of our own.’
 
Rachel walked into the room, unshouldered her backpack, let it slide to the floor. From the window she could see the westbound lanes of the north circular vanishing into the distance. Rank after rank of terraced roofs undulated away to the south.
‘The human world,’ Graham said, walking to stand next to her. ‘Over-populated, unsustainable… but mind-blowing nevertheless. Well, I’ll leave you to sort yourself out. There’s a bathroom down the corridor. It should be quiet at the moment.’
She turned from the window. Smiled. Began to relax. ‘Thank you, Graham.’ She was grateful they weren’t branded with new, cult names.
‘I’m sure your father will see you shortly.’
‘I’d like to think so.’
‘And welcome once again,’ Graham said. ‘We’re so pleased you’ve come.’
 
Rachel selected one of the bunks as her own and pushed her clothes into the small chest of drawers. A novel about a man who jumped from Clifton Suspension Bridge and survived went under the bed with the backpack. It was a book she would never read. Then she sat down on the edge of the bunk, folded her hands on her lap, looked at the bare walls, at the wooden floor, and asked herself why she had come.
The room was utterly quiet, the windows double glazed, the walls peculiarly impervious to noise. There was no sound from the traffic on the North Circular – just the hiss of cold brick, the subliminal rib-cage heave of the heavy wooden floors. She lay back on the bed, closed her eyes, imagined she was floating in a vast ocean, far from any shore, as alone as it was possible to be. In her imagination her face lay motionless upon the surface of the water, held there by surface tension, while her hands and feet began to sink towards the seabed. Beneath her inward gaze her face detached itself from her body and drifted away into the distance, while her arms and legs and torso, slowly cooling, sank into the ocean’s subtle depths.
Abruptly face and body snapped into place. She opened her eyes.
She’d fallen asleep, didn’t know for how long. Probably not long. Someone had been in the room. Rachel sat up, slipped her feet into her trainers, went to the door. ‘Is anyone there?’
The hallway was empty.
‘Hello?’
She thought her voice sounded plaintive, almost childish, echoing along the corridor.
There was no one there.
She had been imagining things.
It was time to explore.
 
There were a dozen dormitories on the floor she was on, a shower room with unpartitioned showers, WCs that were only partially enclosed. Rachel particularly didn’t like those. WCs were places to get away from things. To go and think things over. Taking away doors was a way of cutting back on privacy, a way of undermining your sense of being individual.
On the far side of the building a corridor led past laundry rooms and linen cupboards then more dormitories. At the far end she walked out into a second stairwell, leant against the metal rail, looked down through the gap between the stairs. She stood there for a moment, half-mesmerised, listening. Where were all the followers of New Creation? Were they hidden in some dark basement, their legs crossed, their eyes turned inward? Were their souls achieving fusion with the soul of the species, with the souls of other species, with the earth? Were they stalking narrow corridors in ankle-length robes, muttering verses from her father’s book, beating themselves with short, barbed whips?
She hardly thought so.
None of what she had seen so far had the creepy feeling of a cult. Not the smiling disciples in the rooms downstairs; not Graham with his boyish smile; not the tranquil courtyard, the clean and tidy dormitories, the atmosphere of industrious calm…
She descended two flights of stairs, paused at a landing. From a room nearby someone called out, ‘Raiff! We’ve done it! Come and look at this!’ – so she hurried on. Not avoiding people. It wasn’t that. She just wanted to let the impressions sink in slowly, in their own time.
On the ground floor she pushed open a door into an unlit room, patted the wall in search of a light. Spotlights flickered into life – revealing a painting of her father on one wall and a single wooden chair placed in the centre of the room. She walked to the chair, sat down. Her back was to the painting. She was pleased about that. She didn’t want to feel watched, not even by her father. There was something the room reminded her of… something she couldn’t quite place. She liked the whitewashed walls, the sense of emptiness, the feeling, almost, of something waiting to happen.
The room reminded her of her father’s study back at home, on that strange day all those years ago when he had emptied it of furniture and transformed it into a place that had no connections… Whitewashed and bare, with nothing separating him from the future he was intending to create. This room smelled the same: of plaster, fresh paint, emptiness.
Footsteps sounded in the stairwell behind her. Feeling almost guilty, as though intruding upon a sacred place, she jumped up, walked to the opposite doorway, pushed wide another set of doors.
 
More than once that day she had wondered why she had come here.
Now she knew.
She had come to the Temple of New Creation, to the headquarters of the fastest growing religious cult to thrust itself upon an unsuspecting world, for precisely this…
This room, this space, thisblaze of light.
 
The hall into which she stepped emanated light. Light fell from a ceiling made entirely of glass. Light rebounded from flawless whitewashed walls, leapt upward from the polished floor, filled the entire void with an energy that sizzled and hissed like sand beneath a receding wave.
‘Utterly… awesome…’
There was no filtering, here.
There was no need for filtering here.
There was no room for interpretation.
No possible way to resist.
Light forced itself through the censors of her eyes, burned its way into her brain, flung itself like a caged animal around the cavity of her soul.
This is what had brought her father here.
This was the key to his religion.
This room, this space, thisblaze of light.
 
The hall felt bigger than the building which held it. It felt like the inside of a spaceship – like a spaceship carrying the light and energy of a hijacked star.
Rachel’s skin tingled. The hair on the back of her neck prickled with memory and foreboding.
Yes, she had known this light before.
She had known this clarity and brilliance in her childhood, before her family had broken up.
She walked out into the middle of the hall, lifted her arms to either side. She was reaching out for something – for something important – for a memory…
…or for an elemental truth.
She could almost feel it.
She could almost touch it.
She was that close.
 
Yes, she had known this sense of space and light before.
It had been present when she was a little girl in her own home. In the room they called their garden room. It had been present in her childhood home, in every room of the house.
And then it had gone.
Her father had taken it with him when he left.
 
She tilted her head to look up at the cathedral-high ceiling, spun around, inhaled the stillness, the energy, the light.
Her father had left behind him a house of shadows: a Paul-shaped shadow, a Rachel-shaped shadow, a shadowy wife. He had left them to their inner darkness and brought his gift here: this searing luminosity, this sense of uncensored, unimpeded truth.
‘How could you have done this?’ she whispered. ‘You took away your belief and light and hope and gave it to strangers… to people you didn’t even know…
‘How could you have done something like that to the people you loved?’
 
 
 
© 2011 Luke Andreski. All rights reserved.
 
 
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