Since it’s Sunday and it’s stopped raining, I think I’ll take a bouquet of roses to my grave. It’s been a while, and that mound of earth, crowned with a slate of grey and my name, is looking a little drab without them. Why pick roses themselves? They are a tradition. And traditions must be kept, at all costs. Even if the others, mourning, see that spill of white on my grave and disapprove. We all know that somebody will disapprove, at whatever you do; it is just who is doing the disapproving, you see, which is the crucial part.
As for me: I died 2 years ago. Some people disapproved of my existence far too much, I am afraid to say. It was better to be dead, though. For myself, for my family -for everybody. It gave the newspapers something to chew on for a while, something for people to riot about, and then they all spat me out and I was happily forgotten. When I had just been killed, I was worried about the amount of time I would have to stay in my flat. How pale I would become. Everyone knows my face and I face charges for violations of international human rights, and somehow I still managed to be vain. Worrying about being pale, when lifetime imprisonment could lay before! I made sure to sit near the kitchen window everyday, though. The blinds were closed, obviously, but sunlight would still seep through the corners and douse my skin. Because although venturing outside would be an unnecessary risk, I would rather not look like corpse if I could help it. Even though I was to meant be one; my funeral was on national television, after all. Out of spite, not because they wanted to commemorate me, but let’s not dwell on that. Little old me on the BBC; my mum would not have believed it. She would not believe that I was not really in that casket, either, but that it was actually waxy version of myself. Nobody checks corpses anyway. And it helps to still have political supporters on the inside, to orchestrate the fake funeral. They were hoping, I am sure, that by helping me I would come back and revive the Revolution again. I am not so sure.
Now that I was dead, I could do what I wanted, as long as it was inside my flat, and I did not use the internet or the phone. I found letters to be best, actually, to communicate with my family. Whilst the time passed, I read all the books that were in my living room. Until the day of my death, it had been at least two years since I had any free time. So I departed, intellectually ravenous, for those bookshelves. I found my old medical notes, from University, and looked over them. Rubbed my chin. It was coming, like a winter storm. Like a flurry of snowflakes, soft white hair was erupting onto my skin. Soon, I would be safe. Soon. But whilst that beard came, I memorised everything I had forgotten between going to University, becoming a failed medic, then a failure of a son and soon after a failed businessman. And then, as you all know, a failed revolutionist. In all honesty, I think my last career did not end abominably. I was martyr, after all, and that is better than dying slowly into oblivion. If celebrities die young, then everyone weeps for the talent that is now decaying in a box under the ground, and they are forever remembered as being “stolen by time”. But when artists grow old in the public eye, and cannot maintain that talent, that vigour, that beauty- that is when people mock them.
It is a funny world.
Which is why I grew a beard and watched films with northern characters. That accent needed to envelope me and become me, for the simple reason that it opposes my natural one entirely. Born in Brighton to poor parents, pretending that I am from Newcastle would be exactly what I needed to stay disguised. My daughter and wife still live there, today. In Brighton, I mean. It would be painfully obvious to stay with them, and I would be sent to the Hague immediately. No, whilst the old adage of hiding things in plain sight may ring true, unfortunately this would be fatal for me. Not too much in plain sight, at least. I was not going to stay in my flat forever. No, that would be a bore. Instead, with a thick white beard, a crown of long hair and a northern accent, I would look entirely different and be able to walk freely in public. I would start a new life, as a doctor. And speaking with hindsight, I can say that the northern accent and large, billowing beard truly did work. They work well enough so that I can put roses on my grave today, at any rate.
Looking back on those days, I am surprised that I even survived. Putting myself under house arrest was more excruciating than deciding the logistics of destroying the House of Commons. However, I did garner much satisfaction from watching the news unfurl on the BBC, months after I had died. The news reporters and their horror, the documentaries about that sacred building being nothing more than ashes and the arguments which ensued about what to do next. In all these things, my face was plastered onto the screen. It was my fault, they would cry. Which is all very ironic, I will have you know, because it was not even my idea. No, after Brexit actually happened in 2021, (pushed back due to negotiation issues), there was civil unrest. Meanwhile I joined the Lazarus Political Party. They believed in radical change; overturning the existing government and creating a fairer society. Not equal, though. This was far from Communism, before you get any ideas. We learnt from Brexit that if you give people a voting slip, all they will do is set it on fire. So the Lazarus meetings started, quietly, in friends’ houses and then town halls as we grew. We decided we needed to remove the current government, because whilst Lazarus expanded, there were no longer bananas in our shops. Or coffee, or chocolate, or oranges or anything else that you could possibly need. Walking into a supermarket was like walking into a joke. You do not understand where you are going, and then when you realise the destination, it is almost laughable. They used have every shelf overflowing, these places. I would think that was impossible until I remembered that it used to be like that all the time when I was a child. It made me realise that Lazarus wanted something genuinely beneficial for the British people. So I joined them. I spoke to their members, and after talking at meeting a few times about the state of affairs, it turned out that I was a great orator. There’s no other way to put it. It became my everything, those weekly party meetings. You must have watched the documentaries about me by now, so you would know that I was failing at my job at this point, too. It was soulless, a simple check-in and check-out every day for six years of my life before I found this party. Lazarus was the spice to the stew of my life. So what else did you expect me to do, other than dedicate my life to it?
Yes, it became a passion of mine. An obsession, even. As the anger of the nation grew greater, as bricks were thrown into buildings because food was running out, nothing brought me more pleasure than being elected party leader. It had been my goal for the past six months since I had joined. And all the senior members agreed that Lazarus should be in power. We all had different ideas how to go from there, though. I had suggested we wait until the next General Election, which was now every 12 years instead of 4, because the Tories realised that they would never be voted into office again and wanted to maintain their current power as long as possible. But every senior member thought, surprisingly unanimously, that this was far too distant a prospect. That action needed to happen. That it needed to happen now, more than anything else. Weeks of debate, arguments, papers scattered onto the floor. We voted as a party. I made them vote twice, actually. Just to be certain that was what they wanted. They decided, and I quit my day job. This was it. I was going all in, because on May 7th the Lazarus party voted to destroy the Houses of Parliament. But not Westminster Abbey, they said. That was too beautiful, even for them. But Parliament would be fine to burn to nothing but a memory.
So during a sudden snowstorm in November, November 23rd, 3pm to be precise, five bombs exploded. My insides flinched slightly, as I looked at my watch and saw a plume of smoke outside my window, several miles away. Our party had gained momentum now: over 1.2 million members. Obviously not that many people knew about this operation, or we would have been arrested. But the devices had our party logo on it, so the police would know who to credit. Such a pity, really, that old architecture crumbling into flames, but I suppose it had to be done. For the good of the people. To make a statement. At the same time, all ordinary members of Lazarus destroyed statues of any person with any political affiliation. At all. If they had gone to a single Labour meeting, then the hammers came out. Or Lib-dem, or anything else. If a marble statue was linked to a political opinion, it had to go. And at 3pm on that same day, a pre-recorded video of myself was released. Pre-recorded and sent from a computer in a derelict building, so we couldn’t be traced. We decided that it would be a neat ribbon to wrap up the day’s momentous events. It was simple; I introduced myself, the party and then my authority over everybody in England. For their own good. It made a lot of sense, actually, because public opinion is a dangerous thing. See the damage and destruction it has caused in the past. Slavery. The oppression of women. Brexit. Without public approval, these things would not have occurred, despite the few enlightened speaking out. Lazarus, the public were informed, is a party of those enlightened and who speak out against the wrong. Suffragettes were not well received at first, but they turned out to be the few right-minded people amongst the nation. That is what Lazarus is. We can make the right decisions for England, and take the power away from those who can not.
My rule had started so well. I did it for 4 months. More buildings were blown up, laws passed that were stifled by bureaucracy before, and some people were killed. We just did what needed to be done. Some people hold back society, and they just had to go.
Then they found me, hiding in the countryside at my base. Not everyone was so accepting of my authority, unfortunately. So I faked my own death, and now I walk among you. As a doctor; somebody you trust. It is surprising what a new accent and a full beard can do. Now I walk among you.