by Michael Bollen
ISBN: 978 0556105 3 0
"A funny, charming, inventive comic novel. Michael Bollen’s warmth, sharp wit and eye for satirical detail reminded me of Douglas Adams. Quite possibly the best work of fiction since The Bible."
Stephen Merchant, The Office, Extras
Extract 2: Jorj Wakes Up
Jorj was asleep, and his subconscious was trying to keep it that way. It had been a struggle to go back to bed at 10.30 on a Thursday morning, and he wasn’t about to spoil it all by waking up now.
His phone had been ringing for the last five minutes. Tiny speakers implanted in Jorj’s ears were emitting a tinny, repetitious tune. Jorj wedged his head under a pillow, but it made no difference. The sound was on the inside.
The ringing stopped and the phone switched senses. Microscopic devices inside Jorj’s nostrils released several hundred molecules, which were swiftly inhaled. He could smell burning, but still he slept. His nose insisted that the room was filling up with burning tyres. And blazing skunks. And now his feet were on fire.
Jorj’s eyes opened, showing panic and fear, which faded to irritation as he realised it was just his phone. The panic and fear returned as he remembered which sense was next. He swallowed cautiously. There was already just a hint of meaty chunks in marrowbone jelly. If he wasn’t quick the taste of dog food would turn into the taste of what dog food turned into...
He tapped desperately at the paper-thin screen attached to his left wrist. The dog food taste disappeared, and Jorj’s earpieces came to life again, this time playing the sound of his own voice. ‘Hi Jorj, er, yes, this is the message telling you that you’re probably in trouble. Something’s gone very badly wrong, and you’re sleeping through it. So get up. Er, sorry about that.’
Jorj climbed out of bed. His hair had got up several hours before him and was standing vertically on his head. His face was unhappy and unshaven. He stretched, feeling all of his seventeen years, and quite a few of someone else’s. Grumbling to himself, he pulled on some trousers until they were yanked free from the tangle of clothes on the floor. This is could be very bad, he thought, putting them on.
A few minutes later Jorj was outside, walking as quickly as his scrawny frame would allow. He had been pushing his luck recently, and only now did he realise how stupid that had been. His life to date proved that he didn’t actually have any luck, and if you push something that doesn’t exist you end up falling flat on your face.
Jorj awoke from his miserable reverie as a desperate-looking man pushed past him. Jorj looked over his shoulder and saw three men running towards him, brandishing guns. They wore the bright red uniform of O’Connels Burger Restaurants. ‘Stop him!’ shouted one.
‘Er…’ said Jorj, shrugging ineffectually. Spontaneous social interaction was not his forte. The uniformed men pushed past him as well, chasing their quarry. The running man had a lead of about twenty metres, but as Jorj watched, the man stumbled and fell to the floor. His pursuers surrounded him, brandishing their weapons. Jorj tiptoed past, avoiding eye contact.
One of the red-clad men addressed the prisoner. ‘As a three star crewmember of O’Connels Restaurants, I am qualified to make a Big Con and Cheese, work on the fly-thru counter and conduct crime scene investigations. I’m placing you under arrest,’ he said. ‘You are accused of theft, evading arrest and unlicensed unemployment. The penalties for these crimes include an unlimited fine, imprisonment, or loss of Shareholder status. Do you have any questions?’
‘Yes,’ said the captured man bitterly. ‘Do I get fries with that?’
Jorj hurried on.
It was inevitable really. The staff of O’Connels burger restaurants had done an excellent job defending company property during the corporations’ hostile takeover of planet Earth. The new world order needed a new police force, and O’Connels wanted the job.
Soon after taking control of the planet, the heads of the corporations met to discuss their plans. When talk turned to global law enforcement, the C.E.O. of O’Connels pointed out that their staff were of a high calibre, commanded respect from the general public, and already had the uniforms.
The discussions continued.
‘Okay, you’ve made your point,’ said the head of O’Connels. ‘But we do already have the uniforms.’ And that appeared to be the deciding factor.
O’Connels attempted to rebrand their cops as “Law Buddies”, but it didn’t really catch on. They had a slogan though: Justice within two minutes or you go free.
More about Earth Inc.