The morning after the strike the camp was thick with frost and the three girls in the marquee sat in a wafting mist. Regardless, there was colour in Cat’s cheeks. She and Jack were talking about where they went for bargain clothes. It transpired they each went to the same charity shops. Kiera said they dressed so differently she’d never have realised it to look at them. The interruption introduced himself as Alex. He was well groomed, and dressed in a sports coat and slacks, smiles and winks all round. Alex sat down a little too close to Jack for her liking, but she let it go. Alex kept his his options open, making eye contact with Cat.
‘God, yous are game, camping out in this weather. So are yous into politics then?’ he asked unironically.
Cat responded dryly, and disinterested. ‘Nah. Whatever gave you that idea?’
‘Ha! Did you hear about that strike yesterday?’ he asked.
‘Well duh,’ said Kiera.
‘They said the UK could be on the brink of another recession,’ said Alex.
‘That’s the word. Not just us: Europe, America, Asia,’ replied Jack.
‘Yeah. It’s all starting up again, honey. You’ve got to wonder.’
Eoghan zipped his tent closed and wandered up the path, bleary eyed.
‘Alright Eoghan,’ said Kiera.
‘It’s all engineered,’ said Alex.
‘Morning,’ said Cat.
‘What’s happening?’ asked Eoghan.
‘Am I detecting some animosity here?’ asked Alex.
Eoghan threw his head back, puzzled. ‘No. No animosity,’ he said.
‘It’s okay. Eoghan’s a friend,’ said Jack.
‘Oh. Just a friend? Nothing more?’ enquired Alex.
For a moment no-one spoke.
‘What’s up with you this morning? You’re looking worse for wear,’ noted Cat.
Eoghan sniffed. ‘Ah, just tired and fucked off.’
‘What’s the matter?’ she said.
‘Ach. The usual. You-know-who is sticking their oar in again and we’ve all this shit to do before the rally on Saturday and I haven’t had a day off this week.’
‘That’s what they want though, isn’t it? They all get together and decide,’ said Alex.
‘Same old shit,’ said Eoghan, and he began to pour out a bowl of cereal.
‘Wait. Who decides?’ said Jack.
‘Well, that’s it,’ said Alex. ‘Labour and Conservatives argue
over which of them go to war. They get India and Pakistan to agree to fight. It’s the Illuminati.’
‘Oh, the Illuminati?’ said Cat.
Eoghan moved slowly to take his seat.
‘It’s true. That’s how they see consensus. War: good for the economy, good for technology. We’re in the middle of things they set up three hundred years ago. Go and look it up on Wikipedia.’
‘Aye. Wikipedia it, Cat,’ said Jack sarcastically.
Kiera turned her face away from them and broke out in a huge grin.
‘I don’t think they’re capable of planning that far ahead,’ said Cat.
‘The Illuminati,’ said Eoghan. ‘A secret organisation causing chaos in the world, though not doing a very good job of disguising themselves.’
‘It’s true. This current situation is all carried out by finance capitalists pretending to look weak. They manufacture a narrative that they’re hard done by so that they can turn round and do it again in five years time.’
‘He has a point,’ said Cat.
Fred staggered out of The Love Shack, one shoe crushed under the weight of his sweaty heel. The new streams of drizzle slapped his creased face. He hobbled on the slimy path a bit before fixing his shoe. Eoghan looked at Alex with scepticism.
‘That’s balls. You’re saying they didn’t get caught with their hands in the till, but they wanted to get caught?’
‘They staged it. They rule us by division. Even this movement of yours! Capitalist society is run by the secret elite. They’re dedicated to preserving bloodlines –’
Eoghan mimicked an English aristocrat. ‘What? Capitalism is a boys club, filled only with the wealthy? And the rich people only marry other rich people? My god, does anybody know? Does Lenin or Trotsky know?’
Fred took a bowl and filled it with cereal and milk, and sat down next to Alex.
‘It’s fucking obvious,’ Eoghan ranted. ‘Princes marry Princesses, they become Queens and Kings. That’s the whole system staying in place!’
‘Alright Fred. Are you off somewhere?’ asked Kiera.
‘I’ve to sign on in ten minutes. It’s twenty minutes walk: uphill all the way.’
‘It served a logical purpose possibly at one time,’ said Eoghan, ‘but it wasn’t a great system. People were trying to overthrow it for years.’
‘Well it’s true,’ insisted Alex. ‘The Illuminati are going to take over the world and kill everybody.’
Eoghan raised his voice as he became increasingly frustrated. ‘There’s no such fucking thing as the Illuminati! Look. Have you ever read the books by Robert Anton Wilson?’
‘I don’t read books, said Alex.
‘You don’t read books? You don’t read books?’ yelled Eoghan.
Again, no-one spoke. Fred froze with his spoon before his mouth, milk dribbling off it.
‘Ah!’ exclaimed Alex. ‘Sure it’s all the fucking Jews anyway.’
Everyone was staring at him except for Fred who got to his feet and slammed his bowl and spoon onto the chair behind him, splashing milk onto Alex’s trousers. He glared at Alex. ‘That’s what I like to wake up to in the morning. A good old bit of anti-Semitism. Who doesn’t need a bit of beat-the-Jew over breakfast? Fuck this. I’m going back to bed.’