Tag Archives: D’arby

The Inklings: chapter 88

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

D’arby finally finished recording his voice just before lunchtime on Thursday. He couldn’t wait to start his real work. He was pleased to discover that a desk had been prepared for him in the same room that Carol and Valentine worked and hoped that meant he’d get to know what they were working on.

In the past couple of days D’arby had decided that he’d be happy working for RenewBank even if he was just a decoy, as long as he knew that the business was doing good things. D’arby was going to meet with Leopold after lunch and learn what his work was going to be.

Valentine invited D’arby to the rooftop garden for lunch with him and Carol. D’arby had eaten his lunch alone in the recording room the last couple of days and had been feeling very lonely so he was happy to accept the invitation. D’arby also had lots of questions he wanted to ask.

“How long have you both been working here?” said D’arby as soon as he and Carol and Valentine had sat down at the table in the rooftop garden.

“Two weeks” said Valentine and Carol added “Me too. We started on the same day. We don’t get to do such exciting stuff as you though – sneaking in and out of the official office must be fun.”

“It isn’t that exciting after the first couple of times” said D’arby. “I reckon it will eventually become a bit of a bore, like having to change from a train to a bus on the way to work. And it will eat into the time I have for my real work”

“It isn’t a waste of time though. It is valuable to be making the people who are spying on RenewBank think that we don’t know about it. It protects our work from their interference” said Carol.

“Yeah, I know” said D’arby. “What are you two working on?”

“Nothing much” said Valentine, with a chuckle. “Just building a model of the economy, financial system and energy supply”.

D’arby’s eyes must have started sparkling with excitement.

“Eventually we will use this model to fine-tune the business plan” said Carol. “Leopold keeps talking about how important it is to prevent perverse outcomes in the transition from the current system to a new, better one.”

“It all sounds so ambitious!” said D’arby. “And so exciting! Are you allowed to talk to anyone outside work about it?”

“No way!” said Carol and Valentine at the same time.

“We can’t let anyone know what’s coming because if the banks and energy businesses knew what we wanted to do they would try their best to stop us. Leopold and Rudnika have identified lots of places where we are at risk.”

“What is the plan for RenewBank anyway? What’s this ‘better system’?” asked D’arby.

“The exact plan will depend on the modelling results but roughly the plan is to create a new, stable alternative currency and a bank that uses this currency and that only renewable energy customers can use. RenewBank will also build and run renewable energy projects and everything will be customer-owned. What makes this so dangerous is that all the modelling so far indicates that doing such a thing will destabilize the big banks and the non-renewable energy generators. So we need to find a way that doesn’t crash the economy before RenewBank can get big enough to support it” said Carol.

“I can see the reason for renewable energy, but what’s the point of the alternative currency?” asked D’arby. He thought he knew the answer because the plan was close to what he’d been thinking about, but he wanted to be sure.

“Not to make money, for sure” said Leopold. “Everything will be customer owned. The point is to force the move to renewable energy and to create form of money that isn’t based on debt. Leopold and Rudknika want to do more than that, but that’s the main aim. I guess they also want to pull the rug out from underneath the people who’ve made themselves rich at the expense of everyone else and especially those who’ve been corrupting our democracy.”

D’arby smiled. He was happy that Rudnika and Leopold could be so confident in such a wild plan, but at the same time he wondered how they could pay everyone’s salary without the business having any income so he asked Carol and Valentine whether they knew how they were being funded.

“Rudnika sold a couple of properties she inherited to pay to get everything started” said Valentine.

D’arby smiled again. It was scarier to be part of something that was self-funded because there wasn’t that reassurance you get when someone is so convinced in your plans that they give you their money. D’arby had many more questions he wanted to ask but Leopold came up onto the roof because he was ready to show D’arby what he’d be working on.

Leopold showed D’arby some databases and spreadsheets he’d started that he wanted D’arby to continue working on and he explained how they fitted in with what Carol and Valentine were working on. All three were adding details to different parts of the model and in a month or so they’d run scenarios using the complete model. After that it would be an iterative process – using the model to discover weaknesses and then improving the model and looking at the effects of different assumptions.

D’arby was so impatient to start working on the model that his fingers started drumming on the desk. Leopold suggested he start by reading a document that explained the work done so far and then there was a spreadsheet to finish and lots of pieces of research were needed to fill in gaps in the model.

“Any questions?” asked Leopold.

“What work is the official D’arby at the official office doing?” asked D’arby.

“Something similar, but all wrong. We are leaking a model that shows that RenewBank must stay small in order to work and the currency aspect will just be Loyalty Points. Hopefully that keeps people off our backs” said Leopold.

D’arby felt like the afternoon disappeared. He was so engrossed in his work that Rudnika had to remind him to go home by pointing out that Sonia couldn’t go home until D’arby had left the official office.

“What’s the earliest I can arrive at the official office tomorrow?” asked D’arby

As Rudnika told D’arby that Sonia would be ready for him to arrive by 7:30am she made a mental note that finding another person to share Sonia’s job should be given high priority. Sonia had said that she didn’t mind the long hours but Rudnika knew that it was not sustainable and if Sonia got sick Rudnika would have to close the official office and D’arby would have to stay home.

As D’arby walked home that evening he felt happy and excited but also frustrated because he hadn’t been able to take any work home with him and he realized that he wouldn’t even be able to make notes at home.

When D’arby got home Syafika and Fanta were deep in conversation about someone calle Celine. D’arby realized he was really hungry and had a look in the kitchen so see if anything was cooking. It looked like Fanta had been interrupted while preparing dinner so D’arby washed his hands and then continued chopping ingredients while reading the recipe that Fanta had left on the kitchen bench.

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The Inklings Chapter 73

You can read the story from the start here: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

When John woke up he felt happy because it was his day off. John was even happier when he realized that D’arby was there. D’arby was busy at the kitchen bench and John began to anticipate a nice breakfast, but as he watched he realized that D’arby was just making some kind of coffee drink. D’arby poured hot coffee from a saucepan through a tea strainer into a jug full of ice. Then D’arby added a splash of milk and poured out two glasses of what he called ‘iced coffee’. As John sipped his glass of the bitter drink he longed for sugar and whipped cream.

“Did you see the note on the fridge?” D’arby asked John.

“Yep. I’m looking forward to dinner time” answered John.

“Why aren’t you at uni?” John asked D’arby. John had begun to hope that D’arby would head off to uni soon so D’arby wouldn’t know if he poured the rest of the iced coffee down the drain instead of drinking it.

“I’m taking the day off to refine some thinking” said D’arby.

John had no idea what D’arby meant, but guessed that he wouldn’t be leaving the house for a while. “What thinking are you refining?” asked John.

“About combining banking and money with renewable energy” answered D’arby and he walked to the bedroom to get his bundle of notes. He was keen to explain his ideas to John.

John quickly tipped his coffee down the sink and had started rinsing the glass by the time D’arby got back.

Then the phone rang. It was someone from uni. They were wondering where D’arby was.

“Oh no!” said D’arby. He’d forgotten that there was a special event on that morning where PhD students could meet potential employers. D’arby evaluated what he was wearing and decided to quickly get changed. Then he ran all the way to uni.

After D’arby had gone John made himself some toast and while he ate it he sat at the table and looked through D’arby’s notes.

When D’arby arrived at uni he ran straight to the drawing office, which had been transformed into a kind of gallery for research. There were research posters up on every vertical surface and all the PhD students and post doctoral researchers were standing near their posters looking serious.  D’arby was relieved to discover that his friend Cate had put up his poster for him. He sat down near it and tried to get his breath back. But D’arby didn’t have much time to recover before an intimidating couple approached him. When the woman looked at D’arby he felt like she could see right into his mind. It made him feel naked and he wanted to hide. The man at her side looked unimpressed with the research he could see around him, but as he approached D’arby he gave him a hint of a smile.

“I’m Rudnika and this is Leopold” said the woman and she shook D’arby’s hand firmly. D’arby introduced himself and turned towards his poster. He was about to start explaining his research when Rudnika interrupted him.

“We already read your poster” she said. “We want to talk about something a bit different”.

Leopold handed D’arby his card and explained that they were from a new bank that also supplied renewable energy and were looking for someone with impeccable character who wanted a challenge.

Then Rudnika explained that what they were attempting to do was so revolutionary that it needed to be kept top secret and that if he joined them he needed to be as discreet as if he were dealing with state secrets.

Leopold then told D’arby that the application process involved him sitting a number of tests and that he would need to consent to a background check.

“Are you interested?” Leopold asked D’arby.

“Yes” said D’arby. He didn’t know if his heart was still racing because he’d run all the way to uni or because this opportunity sounded like just the thing he wanted to be doing next. D’arby couldn’t help looking over his shoulder and wondered how much Guitarman had to do with Rudnika and Leopold.


The Inklings: Chapter 69

After returning from Fanta’s house D’arby felt as if his brain capacity had grown, but he knew it was probably just that he no longer had to worry about where he was going to live. He suspected it would be more ‘normal’ for him to be worrying about whether he would like to live with Fanta and her sisters and whether the household would still be harmonious after he and John moved in, but instead D’arby was glad there was such a comfortable option. He wondered why anyone would choose to the cruel rental market if they had someone they could share with instead.

After John left to open the restaurant D’arby decided that instead of working on his thesis he’d indulge in an afternoon of thinking about other stuff. He cleared the table and got out some scrap paper, pens and a couple of textas he’d found lying around. D’arby was busy drawing complicated diagrams of money flows when the phone rang. It was Fanta, inviting D’arby and John to dinner the following night. D’arby wrote a note to John about dinner at Fanta’s and stuck it on the fridge. Then D’arby got back to thinking, and drawing, and more thinking. It was as if he’d connected his brain to an invisible network – thoughts kept pouring into his head and he had trouble getting them onto paper at the same pace as they arrived.

By the time it started to get dark D’arby had covered all his scrap paper in notes and diagrams, but more importantly he had changed his mind about lots of things. D’arby put down his pen and took a few deep breaths. He was feeling really tired suddenly but also scared that he’d lose his notes again, so he gathered up all the pieces of paper, put them into his backpack and set out to uni to scan and copy them.

When D’arby got to his building at uni he thought it seemed darker than normal. He opened the front door using his swipe card and when he got inside he realized that all the lights were out except for the emergency lighting. D’arby hoped that didn’t mean there had been a power cut because he really wanted to be able to use the photocopier. As D’arby walked upstairs to the photocopy room he thought he heard a door opening and closing, which comforted him. He didn’t want to be the only person in the building.

D’arby opened the door to the photocopy room and was pleased to see that the photocopier had power. He got out his pages of notes and spent a bit of time getting them into order and making them into a nice square pile. Then D’arby put the pile of notes into the automatic feeder, entered his pin number and instructed the photocopier to make a copy of them. The copier seemed to be taking much longer than usual to copy each page and D’arby became impatient. He also realized his bladder was full. D’arby didn’t want to leave his notes unprotected in the photocopy room while he went to the toilet, not just because he was scared someone might take his notes while he was away but because he didn’t want someone to wander in and see that he was using the photocopier for stuff that wasn’t directly related to his thesis, so D’arby stayed where he was and tried to relax by taking long and slow breaths as he waited. By the time the copier had spat out copies of all the pages D’arby was feeling much calmer, but still needed to go to the toilet.

D’arby gathered the pages together again, put them into the automatic feeder, instructed the photocopier to scan them and copy the file onto his USB drive then pressed ‘Start’. Scanning seemed to be taking a long time too. D’arby looked at the photocopier screen and saw that scanning was only 10% complete. D’arby felt a little bit more secure now he had a copy of his notes in his hands and so he decided he would go to the toilet while the photocopier finished scanning the originals – taking the photocopies with him as a precaution.

As D’arby walked along the corridor to the toilets he thought he heard the clicking sound of the swipe card mechanism unlocking the front door and then the sound of the front door opening. He walked faster, hoping nobody would go to the photocopy room before he got back.

When D’arby got back to the photocopy room the scanning had finished. D’arby gathered up the originals and put them into his bag, along with the photocopies. He was about to walk out of the photocopy room when he remembered his USB drive. He went to unplug it from the photocopier but found that it wasn’t there. He looked down at the floor to see if it had fallen out but couldn’t see it.

“I must have forgotten to plug the USB drive in” though D’arby. So he got his notes out of his bag, put them back into the automatic feeder of the photocopier and looked in the front pocket of his bag for a USB drive. The one he found was black with a green stripe. As D’arby plugged the USB drive into the photocopier he was thinking about the green stripe on the USB drive because he was fairly certain his USB drive had a red stripe. D’arby watched as every page of his notes was scanned onto the USB drive, then carefully packed his notes and USB drive into his backpack and walked downstairs.

As D’arby left the building he scanned the park on his left and noticed a figure standing under a lamp post in the middle of the park. D’arby knew his eyesight wasn’t good enough to make out much detail from that distance, especially when it was dark, but he couldn’t help thinking that it looked like Guitarman was standing there, smiling at him. D’arby thought about going over to see if his was right, but it would mean walking in the wrong direction and D’arby was scared of what it would mean if he was right. So instead D’arby gave a faint smile in the direction of to the person who could have been Guitarman and turned away towards home.

To read the story from the start go to https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/


The Inklings: Chapter 49

To read the story from the beginning go here.

John and D’arby were on bikes and trying to beat the storm to Jinabu’s place when the chain came off D’arby’s bike and he crashed into a shrub.

The brakes on John’s bike squeaked as he stopped. He dismounted inelegantly, nearly tripping over the back wheel as he tried to get to D’arby as quickly as possible.

D’arby was bleeding from some scratches on his arms but otherwise ok.

“Sorry” said John. He felt he was to blame because he’d bought the bikes. They were secondhand and had been ‘reconditioned’, but perhaps not very well.

“Don’t worry” said D’arby. He started to laugh. “I don’t think it is fair to blame a bike for my lack of coordination. I should have practiced riding before we decided to take a trip this far.”

John bent down and was looking at D’arby’s bike. The chain went back on easily but seemed a bit loose.

“Maybe we can tighten the chain at Jinabu’s place so it is safe for the ride home.” suggested John. “Is it far? Can we walk the bikes?”

D’arby pulled a map out of his back pocket and unfolded it. “It’s only about one kilometre more so we may as well walk” he said. “That would be safer. I don’t think we should ride home tonight though.” said D’arby as he looked up. “See – there are hardly any street lights around here so it will be pretty dark and we don’t have lights on our bikes.”

“So much for the carefree life I was imagining when I bought the bikes!” said John. “How are we going to get home instead then? We can’t take the bikes on a bus and there’s no train station near here.”

“I’ll see if we can stay at Jinabu’s instead.” answered D’arby.

John didn’t like the sound of that. He hadn’t brought a change of clothes or his deodorant, but before he could say anything it started to rain. The rain was so heavy that it took John’s breath away.

When John and D’arby arrived at Jinabu’s house a little while later they were soaking wet but feeling exhilarated.

Jinabu answered the door, which D’arby thought was just as well. They were so un-presentable that D’arby expected Andrew would want to shoo them away. Jinabu just laughed when she saw them though. They left the bikes on the front verandah and came inside, leaving wet footprints as they went.

Andrew then appeared. He had the baby asleep in a carrier on his front and a drink in each hand. He hurriedly handed John and D’arby a glass each before hurrying off.

“That’s iced tea” explained Jinabu and she hurried after Andrew. Jinabu and Andrew soon came back with towels and some of Andrew’s clothes.

“I’ve made two beds in the spare room” announced Andrew. “You can go and get changed there.” And he pointed down the hallway.

“Are we staying the night?” John whispered to D’arby but D’arby didn’t answer because he’d just noticed that one of his scratches was bleeding and blood had dripped onto the carpet. Unfortunately Andrew had also seen the blood.

“Quick Jinabu” said Andrew. D’arby needs a bandage. I’ll clean the carpet.

So John went to the spare room and got changed. He contemplated climbing out the window, sneaking around the front and escaping on his bike, but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to find his way home so instead John dried his hair and put on Andrew’s old tracksuit. At least it was comfortable, thought John.

The rest of the evening went more smoothly. D’arby and John were on their best behavior. The baby cried for about an hour just as they were about to sit down for dinner but otherwise it was pleasant. D’arby thought it was suspiciously pleasant.

Andrew was a different person – almost. He was still Andrew but seemed to have more confidence, as if he’d finally stopped worrying what other people think. Jinabu seemed happy and that made D’arby happy.

Still, D’arby was happy when it was finally bedtime.

“There are towels in the bathroom. Will you be ok?” asked Jinabu as she headed to bed. Andrew had gone ahead to check on the baby.

“Yeah, don’t worry about me!” said D’arby.

The house was so quiet that when John and D’arby got to the spare room they were almost too scared to say anything in case Jinabu or Andrew could hear them.

“I thought you said Andrew was awful” whispered John, cautiously.

“He used to be” answered D’arby and then he couldn’t’ help adding “But then I gave him some of my special pills.” John smiled thoughtfully for a couple of minutes then said “I wish I could clean my teeth.”

“That’s what I was thinking” said D’arby. “Let’s see what Jinabu has in the garden” said D’arby and he opened the window and climbed out. John followed, but he wasn’t hopeful of finding a toothbrush plant in the garden.

“What are we looking for?” whispered John

“Not sure” replied D’arby. “A veggie patch with celery hopefully. Or a eucalypt.”

The neighbours still had their lights on so the garden wasn’t very dark. There were snails about though and John trod on one. The crunch under his bare foot made shivers run down his spine but he stayed quiet. He wiped his foot on the lawn while D’arby bent over the veggie patch. After a bit of rustling around D’arby straightened up with two celery sticks in his hand. Then D’arby snapped two twigs off a small tree and they headed back to the spare room on tip toe. As they passed the window to Jinabu and Andrew’s room they could hear snoring.

When they got back inside John sighed with relief, but he was still unsure how he was going to clean his teeth so D’arby demonstrated by rubbing the celery all over his teeth as he ate it and then chewing on the twig to make the end brush-like before rubbing it all over his teeth. John wasn’t impressed but gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised because afterwards his mouth felt quite clean. “Now all I need is a shower and some deodorant and I’ll be able to sleep” said John.

While John was having a shower, D’arby went to the kitchen and tried to quietly look through the kitchen cupboards. When John emerged from the bathroom in some of Andrew’s old pyjamas D’arby handed him a bowl of white powder.

“What’s that?” asked John, sounding a bit worried. “I made you some deodorant” answered D’arby.

…………….
The first thing John did in the morning was sniff his armpits and then he smiled. As he and D’arby cycled home John discreetly sniffed his armpits every time he wiped sweat from his forehead. D’arby noticed but didn’t say anything.

As they rode through the park near home, John and D’arby noticed a crowd of people so they rode over to have a look. In the centre of the crowd was Guitar Man. He was standing on a milk crate and preaching to the crowd. John looked around and saw that although a few people were giggling quietly, most people were listening eagerly and nodding occasionally.

“Who really needs the most money? Is it the most charming person who can get people to do whatever they want without paying anyone? Is it the most competent person who can do things for themselves? Is it the person who enjoys hard work? Or is it the lazy incompetent who nobody wants to do favours for?”

A few people cheered. Guitar Man paused for a moment before continuing.

“Think about who most feels the need to drive an expensive car or have a flashy house. Who worries the most about what they look like? Is it the person who knows that deep down they are a good and worthwhile person? Or is it the person who is forever insecure and no matter how much they manage to accumulate, still worries that someone will one day expose them as a fraud?”

The crowd was quiet this time. The people who’d had their teeth whitened deliberately kept their mouths closed. A few people looked down at their shoes uncomfortably.

“Have another look at the world with fresh eyes. That CEO earning millions of dollars a year – if they aren’t happy unless they earn more than everyone else, what does that say about them and their inner strength? If you can choose your own salary and you choose to make it higher and higher what does it really mean? That you are worth more and more? Or that you need more and more in order to feel as adequate as the person who manages to get by on below average wages? Who is more genuine?”

“The brain plays a funny trick on you when you get more than other people – you start to think you deserve it because you are somehow better. That’s what needy people really crave – this feeling – to make up for the way they naturally feel inferior.

“But I’m not here to make you hate these needy people. I want to help them, and I want to help you so you never become them.”

“Yes, people will judge you by what you’ve done in the past but in reality we live our life one day at a time. It is what we do right now that matters right now. You could build up the perfect life being the perfect person and then ruin it all by doing something really dreadful. We can’t guarantee anything. If we think we can build up something now and then enjoy taking it easy later we are wrong. Our bodies and minds need to be used or they fade. To really feel pleasure we need to sometimes feel pain. Starving yourself when you are young doesn’t mean you can be a glutton in middle age and not get fat. Of course we need to do what is going to be best in the future, but we also need to do what is best today. No, it isn’t easy to do both. It requires thinking and effort and not doing the first thing that jumps into your mind. Easy things don’t make you happy!”

“What you can build up are memories. You remember when you do something awful. You remember when you made someone happy. If you lift yourself up by bringing others down that becomes part of you. You remember how much effort went into your achievements. And in your subconscious you keep a running total of good minus bad, of effort minus luck, of treating people well minus using them to get what you want, of giving minus taking. It is when things go really wrong in your life that you become aware of this running total. Imagine how the greedy, needy billionaire who, by living a life of luxury has not only deprived millions of a dignified life but has set the consumption bar so high that billions of other people who have all they need are left feeling like they’ve missed out – imagine how you’d feel to be hit by that negative running total as you lay on your death bed. To realize that you’d had the power to really change the world and you’d squandered it and to know that there was no time left to do anything about it.”

“Because NOT becoming a billionaire is how you become something genuinely great. If you give more than you get you can’t end up with lots of money. You’ll never know whether you could have been a billionaire, just like you’ll never know so many things, but not needing to know is where you show your strength.”

John was so mesmerized that D’arby had to jab him in the ribs to get him to notice that he was whispering “I’ve had enough. Let’s go home”.


The Inklings: Chapter 44

To read the story from the beginning go here.

“What an amazing orator!” said John after the strange robed man walked off. D’arby just grunted and said nothing. He hardly said anything for the rest of the day, no matter how hard John tried to prompt him. At first John managed to remain good humoured, but by night time he’d had enough.

“What is friggin wrong with you?” John demanded after 20 minutes of watching D’arby spin a pen around on the table.

D’arby rubbed his eyes and sighed. “That man we saw at the café this morning who was wearing a white robe and preaching is the same man who sat next to me when I went to visit Jinabu and who stole my draft plan for saving the world. And the notebook he had was red, just like the one I lost on the train yesterday. The things he was saying yesterday were not really part of my plans, but it is as if he is able to imagine what I am thinking, only he is better able to articulate my thoughts than I am, and he is a much better speaker. Imagine how you would feel if you came across a more effective version of yourself.”

“Ha, I get you” said John, thinking of his brother Tim, although John hadn’t fully understood the significance of the robed man having a red notebook that looked like D’arby’s. “But isn’t it good to find that someone else has the same ideas as you?” asked John.

“Don’t you understand? Or do you think I’m just being paranoid?” asked D’arby. “That man doesn’t have the same ideas as me, he STEALS my ideas! But then he does better with them than I do. He goes out and tells people things, while I just sit around stewing.”

John found what D’arby said a bit disturbing, and did start to think that D’arby might be a bit paranoid. Afterall, it is possible for two people to have the same opinion, and to have the same colour notebook. But John decided to humour D’arby and see if D’arby’s mood would pass on its own. “That’s good though, isn’t it?” said John. “I mean, if he is going around and preaching your ideas then you don’t need to do it yourself and have more time to think. Besides, I don’t think you’d really enjoy doing what he is doing.”

“I guess so” said D’arby, after thinking about it for a while. “But it is a bit creepy. I can’t help imagining that if I look out the window I’ll see him peeping in at us”

John couldn’t help himself and found himself turning to look out of the window, but he could see nothing worth noting except the last remnants of sunset.


The Inklings: Chapter 37

D’arby went home to his parent’s place two days before Christmas. He had mixed feelings about the trip. Of course he wanted to see his parents and he enjoyed being closer to nature, but he didn’t like the hot dry weather. He felt anxious about bushfires – he felt the need to scan the horizon every hour or so for signs of smoke. He also felt depressed thinking that this hot dry weather was most likely just going to become hotter, dryer and more frequent as the years passed. One of the main reasons D’arby felt the need to save the world was because he wanted to stop the bush he grew up in from dying. The thought of that landscape changing was enough to fill him with sadness and if he dwelt on the thought a terrible rage would well up in him. D’arby had grown up with people who didn’t care (or wouldn’t admit to caring) about nature despite living in it. He’d had arguments with them about whether animals had any right to exist. They had made fun of him for caring about trees. He’d defended his piece of bush from them when they turned up with their spotlights and shot guns, or trailers and chainsaws. But all his efforts had been in vain – and the people who didn’t care were going to win – because climate change was going to take the bush even if D’arby was on guard 24 hours a day. When D’arby thought about climate change he had a mental picture of a red-faced young man revving his perfectly polished ute, blasting out tones of carbon dioxide and laughing because, in the battle between him and D’arby, he knew he was going to win.

To cheer himself up a bit, D’arby went for a walk just before sunset (when it was cool enough to make being outside enjoyable) and imagined what it would be like to have invented a way to remove enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reverse climate change. Of course D’arby had no idea how that could be achieved and suspected that it couldn’t be (not on a scale large enough with the resources available anyway).

D’arby’s thoughts then drifted back to the red faced man in the ute. Inside the red faced man’s head D’arby imagined that there was a yearning for an endless, softly undulating, treeless landscape – like the lawn covered hills that so often get associated with “green” products. D’arby felt the red faced man’s reptilian urge to bash the crap out of anything or anyone that made him feel uncomfortable, but D’arby also knew that the man had in his brain the capability for empathy and the ability to reason.

“Why don’t people use their brains!” yelled D’arby.

To calm himself down, D’arby took some deep breaths and tried to appreciate the sunset. Then he began walking home.

“I’m trapped on a planet with people who don’t care enough about it to look after it and yet none of us have anywhere else to go” D’arby complained to himself. He couldn’t help feeling that it had all been somehow organized as a challenge.


The Inklings: Chapter 33

Syafika was furious to wake up and realise that it was Monday. She’d wasted the weekend waiting for Fanta to call and apologise (which Fanta hadn’t done) and now, not only was it time to go back to work again, but because Fanta hadn’t apologized Syafika had to decide whether to demonstrate her hurt by staying home that night and missing the meeting (which she had really been looking forward to) or to go to the meeting and risk looking like she wasn’t very upset with Fanta. Syafika picked up the phone and was about to call Vincent and ask him what she should do when she realized that she couldn’t do that either because she’d promised Vincent she wouldn’t go to any more of the meetings.

Since Wednesday Syafika had been stewing. She was incredibly hurt that Fanta had been keeping secrets from her and was even more hurt (and very jealous) that Fanta had been collaborating with her awful little cousin Ousman. Another element of Syafika’s hurt was that she was starting to realize that she needed Fanta more than Fanta needed her.

At last Syafika decided to give in and go to the meeting. Staying home would just make her even angrier. Besides, Fanta would have probably made a nice cake for dessert.

Poor John wasn’t in a good way either. The scare he’d got when Vincent turned up at Syafika’s place had made him start thinking about the precarious situation he was in. Since then John had spent every spare moment thinking about how he could avoid going to gaol. He was now feeling really depressed because he couldn’t think of a way of cutting off his past. And John wasn’t worried just for himself. He could see that whatever happened to him would also affect Fanta, his family and even D’arby. It would even affect their plans to “save the world”.

Syafika was right, Fanta did make a cake for the meeting. As Fanta took it out of the oven that afternoon she was wondering whether the meeting would go any better than their first. Fanta was hoping that if she made an extra special dinner it would help Syafika forgive her. Fanta was also worried about John, who had been distant that week. She could tell something was on his mind but when she asked him if anything was wrong he tried to pretend that nothing was.

D’arby was oblivious to all the dramas of his friends. He had been too engrossed in his latest draft of his plan to save the world to notice that John was depressed.

Fanta finished setting the table just at the time they’d agreed to meet. Then she looked out the window but couldn’t see any of her guests coming so she went to check that there was a fresh hand towel in the bathroom. Fanta then spent the next half an hour doing various unimportant household jobs, and checking out the window every five minutes or so. Finally she sat down and regretted having organized for her aunt and uncle to take her sisters out for the evening because it looked like nobody was going to turn up for the meeting. Who was going to eat all the food now?

Then there was a knock at the door and the next thing Fanta knew, John and D’arby were showering her with excuses for being so late. Just behind them was Syafika. She came in without saying much and soon all of them were sitting around the table.

Dinner was strangely silent. D’arby kept getting out his notes, looking at them, folding them up and putting them back in his pocket. The rustling sound was annoying Syafika. She hadn’t brought any notes this time. She’d been too angry to remember to bring her notes and was disappointed because she couldn’t remember her ideas without them.

Everyone was relieved when the dinner had all been eaten, even Syafika. As Fanta poured everyone cups of tea, D’arby skimmed through his notes once more and then stood up, cleared his throat and began.

“I’ve been trying to work out whether there is any root cause to the rot we were talking about last week. Is there any one thing that we can focus on that will make more difference than others? Anyway, this is what I’ve come up with so far:

It all started while I was watching the news. The usual finance reporter was showing graphs and talking about how consumers where still saving rather than spending so the retail outlook was grim and economic growth was threatened. I started to wonder whether all these “consumers” were really saving, or whether they’d made the same realization that I’d made and had decided they didn’t want to be consumers anymore. What if everyone stopped buying so much because they didn’t want to keep using resources unsustainably? What would that do to the economy? Would there be a recession? A depression? What are those things anyway? Can our economic system survive if we live more sustainably? I mean, even with increased efficiency, continual economic growth is impossible so either we stuff the planet or we stuff the economy, right? I know I’m not the only person who can see this problem so why are we so determined to stick to this path? Why aren’t we changing the economy?

I’d be surprised if it wasn’t those who benefit from the current system who are keeping things on the current path – so we may as well blame the richest people, but it isn’t just their fault because everyone else is letting them get away with it.

Anyway, if these rich people don’t care that they are destroying the planet and that they will be remembered as having been the biggest arseholes who ever lived, then why not? Are they psychopaths? Let’s assume that they are, even just for the fun of it.”

D’arby paused and looked at his audience. They seemed to be paying attention but he wasn’t sure they were following. He hadn’t been following his notes so he put them down on the table and just kept talking without them.

“I guess you’ve heard how corporations are inherently evil, and probably run by psychopaths and that corporations influence our governments so we can probably blame them for keeping us on a path to destruction – psychopaths via corporations, that is. And corporations probably turn normal people into virtual psychopaths too.

So what can we do about it? Can we make the normal people fight the system? Or can we fight the psychopaths directly? Or both?

I’ve been reading papers about psychopaths and I can’t say things are very clear. There isn’t total agreement on what one is, let alone on what to do about them. Some people reckon they might be able to come up with a treatment, but I can’t imagine psychos volunteering to take medication. I also worry that if we knew what makes a psycho someone would probably have a go at creating more of them – in some professions having empathy holds you back.

This gets me back to behaviour and the only thing I’ve ever been able to change. I think I know how to cure addiction, but can I cure a psychopath? Should I spend my time trying to work out how to do something I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do or should I spend my time doing something I have already done before? Or can we do both?”

D’arby stopped again and looked at his audience, waiting for an answer but their faces were blank. This response made D’arby very annoyed. He sighed and sat down, shaking his head and was about to voice his disgust when John’s face lit up.

“I think he means he agrees with my idea and that we should keep putting the pills in the pizzas!” said John, with a triumphant smile on his face.

D’arby let out an exasperated laugh and then said “Yes, but only while we try to work out what else we can do.”

Fanta and Syafika just nodded and wondered what their roles in this plan were going to be.


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