118 The feet beneath the sheet

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118   The feet beneath the sheet

Not far out of town we all fall quiet, which is unexpected but welcome. I am seated in the rear half of the van, with the window against me on my left and a sleepy Alaia on my right, her head resting on my shoulder. Across the central aisle the white-draped Angel sits securely in his seat, with his backwards-pointing feet sticking out from under the sheet.

Alaia's going to spend the night at my place, I do believe. How strange, that despite my visual abilities, it took me so long to realise what was flickering between us. Those abilities had to disappear, in fact, before I realised it. I suppose they had focused me so much on unfamiliar scales of grandeur and intimacy within people, that I wasn't focusing in the right way to see something occurring on such a familiarly human-sized scale right in front of me. Plus, of course, I never tuned in to her—well, hardly ever.

I gaze through the window. In the wake of my loss of powers, I still feel like a monarch who's been robbed of a realm, but the regular human abilities to which I've been returned now feel richer than they did before. It's a strange, grand fortune to have shone worldwide with an almost supernatural glow of glamour, beauty and power for just a brief time—for those two extraordinary broadcasts only—and then to return to the realm of normal humanity, quite certain never to shine as brightly again for the rest of my life and yet also knowing nothing can take away what was achieved nor cause the world to forget it.

Moreover, what Alaia and I emitted survives in perfect high-end recordings, which Marc will spare none of his prodigious powers in marketing and selling as globally as possible, and from which Alaia and I shall receive large shares in line with the agreements just hashed out between Bedford and the GN. Such has been the fantastic impact of Sound & Vision and Big Bang in just this first week, according to Marc, that I can see this pair of broadcasts will rage and thunder on without relent into the future, towering unstoppable and huge through the years with their own self-generating fuel and a being and volition quite their own, independent of Alaia and me altogether. From now on, she and I will in some respects be no closer to her sound and my vision, as sealed and perfected there, than any of the viewers who will watch them for generations to come.

As for the flying thing and the disc in the ocean ... well, I'm going to keep quiet about them, at least until Alaia wants to talk about the flying thing. I still don't know how to process them, and perhaps I'll never know. No one will believe me if I mention them, so why bother doing so? I'm sure I saw them both, and I'm sure she and Angel saw one of them, and who knows what they were. If they had any emotional effect on me, aside from wiping away his and Alaia's abilities, then this was probably to leave me with a newly clean, clear and serene consciousness of the icy power of objects to wipe out any and all of us at a moment's notice, neutralising every social or imaginative distinction or achievement at a stroke.

I spot something else too, which makes me smile: that default-level personality of mine, peeping out like a mischievous rabbit from the place it was hiding in while those greater abilities were overshadowing it. And wouldn't you know—it's just me. Perhaps the reason I felt I'd mislaid it, once I started looking into other people's personalities, was that my own personality had thereby been revealed as just a habitual set of ways of seeing, rather than its own objective beast. No matter: I greet my set of ways of seeing, like a long-lost bunny, in warm affection.

How randomly chosen personalities are, for the people who find themselves acting as their custodians, I reflect. I frown, noticing that just above the flat horizon there's a pale cloud resembling a tornado... I peer at it, fascinated; then I realise it's half the white of one of my eyes reflected on the surface of the glass beside me, the tornado's inside curve being formed by the outer edge of the iris.

I feel Alaia's breath on my neck as she sleeps. I turn my head to the right, to look at her from close up. Beginning at her eyes, I move my adoring gaze slowly downward, in a deliberate and leisurely trip along the line of her profile. When my gaze reaches her mouth, softening at the prospect of its imminent detour into the small curved inlet comprising her parted lips as seen from here, I feel my eyes change focus, from close up to further away: for exactly beyond her lips, in this particular sightline, are Angel's backwards-pointing feet sticking out from under the sheet.

I turn my head quickly to face forward again, and lean my head back against the head-rest.

  

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For some nice reviews and interviews about The Imagination Thief, in The Guardian and elsewhere, see http://www.rohanquine.com/press-media/the-imagination-thief-reviews-media/

For a quick synopsis of it, see http://www.rohanquine.com/home-the-imagination-thief-novel/synopsis-and-characters-list-the-imagination-thief/

For the 12 Films in The Imagination Thief, see http://www.rohanquine.com/video-books-films/12-films/

For the Audio-book version and the Video-book version of each of its 120 mini-chapters, see http://www.rohanquine.com/home-the-imagination-thief-novel/audiobook-tumblr-wattpad/

For links to the retailers, see http://www.rohanquine.com/buy/the-imagination-thief-novel-ebook/ and http://www.rohanquine.com/buy/the-imagination-thief-novel-paperback/

And for its Amazon pages, see http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Imagination-Thief/dp/0992754909 and http://www.amazon.com/The-Imagination-Thief/dp/0992754909

The Imagination Thief is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people's imaginations and memories. It's about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split between beauty and happiness in the world; and the allure of various kinds of power. It celebrates some of the most extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, exploring the darkest and brightest flavours of beauty living in our minds.

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