Sessions 1 – 6
The train sped along the track, the scenery rushing past the window with a blur of greens and browns. The patchwork fields moving past like an ever changing carpet of nature. The sky was overcast and speckled with small blots of blues and yellows as the sun tried its best to peek through the mottled clouds.
It wasn’t long before the fields, trees, and farm houses gave way to warehouses, bridges, and skyscrapers. The tracks carved a path straight across the border between the old city and the new. The old buildings were sandwiched together creating a sprawling maze of thin streets and one-way roads that pressed up against the river on one side and the new city on the other.
The new city was a glistening, glass covered metropolis that ventured from the old city right up to the top of the rolling hills. The buildings themselves were a myriad of futuristic monoliths slicing into the sky like shimming knives. Separated by huge roads, wide paths and its underground carved up by an intricate subway system.
The shaking train began to slow and move deliberately as it snaked along the tracks towards the riverside station. As the train creeped into the station the tannoy sparked to life.
‘This train terminates here, please check you have all your belongings with you before alighting the train’
People began to rise from their seats as if there was no time to delay. A businessman packed up his laptop, a student finished scribbling on a coffee stained piece of paper, a hen party downed their drinks and began singing, and a young boy was woken from a nap; much to his annoyance.
A few minutes later the train squealed to a halt, the doors beeped open and the people moved out of the train en mass. The former sardines piled onto the platform leaving the train empty except for one spectacled man.
He sat calmly with his old leather briefcase squarely on his lap waiting for the train to clear. When the last passengers foot pressed against the platform he straightened his blue tie and stood up. As he walked through the carriage he buttoned up the jacket of his grey three-piece suit. His black Oxfords made a satisfying click as he alighted onto the platform.
The train doors hissed closed and the platform, that only moments before had been swarming, was now desolate; occupied by only one man in a grey suit.
He continued to click his way down the stone platform towards the automated ticket gates in the distance. From his vantage point he could see the great mass of people queuing and pushing as they waited to get through the thin gates and into the city. He took his time moving towards them, simply binding his time until the frenzied travelers had swiped their tickets. He was in no particular rush.
By the time his meandering walk had taken him to the ticket gates the crowd had dispersed and once again it was quiet; at least for the next few minutes. He swiped his ticket over the sensor and with a beep and a clunk the gates opened. As he walked through he turned towards the huge stone archway that formed the entrance.
The archway had once simply been open to the elements but now was mostly inlaid with huge panes of thick glistening glass. The giant window was dotted with a set of sliding doors that moved silently to the side whenever someone walked close enough. The crystal like glass and old pockmarked stone was a perfect example of the city. The old and the new sitting side by side but never quite mixing.
The moment he stepped out of the station the city exploded into life in front of him. People practically ran to and fro trying to go about whatever business they perceived was important. While scores of cars, taxis, bikes and all other forms of transport beeped and revved as they navigated the thin streets on the edge of the old city.
Through the people he could see the new buildings dominating the skyline just a few hundred meters in front of him, and he new that just behind him and the station was the river that ran straight as an arrow towards the sea.
The man headed through the crowd, deftly snaking and dodging his way through until he reached the edge of the road and the start of the taxi rank. It only took a few seconds before he saw the short portly man holding placard bearing his name. As he drew closer to the man wearing an extremely ill fitting black suit the sky began to darken, and a few small droplets of rain smacked against the pavement.
‘Ah! Mr Curnow a pleasure to see you again. The train was delayed somewhat I presume?’ The man spoke quickly depositing the placard into the vehicle and opening the passenger door.
‘No delay at all, unlike most people I’m in no particular rush.’ He paused outside the car unbuttoning his jacket and placing his briefcase into the car. ‘Please, call me Jon’
‘I am afraid it is a habit I will not be leaving behind any time soon Mr Curnow’ The driver said respectfully as the door was closed behind his passenger.
The sleek unassuming black car began to pull out of the parking space as the heavens opened and the rain formed a torrent seeking to drench the city.
After a what felt like far too long the car managed to pull out into the stream of congested traffic. Eli Green, the vehicle’s heavy set driver, weaved the car through a set of turnings and intersections heading deeper into the old area of the city.
‘It might take slight longer than usual Sir, some of the old gas pipes on Salter Street are leaking. The whole area is cordoned off.’ Green called to Jon in the rear of the vehicle.
‘It’s not a problem Eli, I have some things to attend to anyway’ Jon replied while he straightened his spectacles and clicked open the locks of his briefcase.
The case opened up to reveal a collection of papers, various pens, an array of glasses (each one filled with different coloured lenses), and a pocket magnifying glass.
With a swift automatic lick of his thumb he rifled through the papers finding the specific one he required. The paper was covered in notes of an almost illegible scrawl that was Jon’s shorthand.
As Jon read he muttered under his breath, paying no attention to the torrent of rain now pounding against the car. He pulled a pen from the case and scribbled red inked notes in the margins of the sheet. He lifted the fountain pen and placed it on the paper again just as the car hit a small pothole.‘Damn it’
‘I am so sorry Mr Curnow I did not realise it was there until I was upon it’
‘Don’t worry Eli, it’s nothing more than a smudge’ Jon replied calmly, blowing the ink dry and pulling a small metal orb from his pocket.
He placed the orb in the middle of the open briefcase and studied for a second. The sphere was golden in colour, barely 2 inches in diameter covered with an ornate floral pattern.
The sphere was beautiful, the floral pattern was enticing and shimmering. Yet still Jon just studied it. With a brief exhale he whiped his right hand upwards and the space between his fingers began to distort and shimmer for a second.
There was a fluid yet disjointed movement in is fingers and the orb shook. But then it stopped.
The golden sphere simply sat still after its brief shake.
‘I am sorry Mr Curnow, Sir, what have I done?’
‘Nothing Eli, it’s my own problems right now’
‘Ah’ it was with that Eli Green kept quiet knowing that he should stay completely silent when Jon Curnow was annoyed with himself.
Jon tried a second time. Staring intently towards the orb and once again contorting his hand this time concentrating more. The space between his fingers distorted, contorted and seemed to almost fold in on itself. The sphere again shook and for a brief split second swelled in size before returning back to it’s original circumference.
‘Ha! I knew there was something in this’ Jon said under his breath.
The car still snaked its way through the congested traffic, horns beeping and engines revving from every angle. Everyone trying to find their way through the almost stationary traffic to no avail. The rain was now soaking through the old cobbled streets and the clouds simply grew darker overhead. As the rain rattled on the windows a ringing came from Jon’s pocket.
He pulled out the phone and read the name across the display ‘Curator Ambrose’. He gave a long sigh and answer the call.
‘Hello Ambrose, what can I do for you on this fine day?’ Jon said ambivalently.
‘You damn well know exactly what you can do for me this ”fine” day Curnow! I have a group of Curators here who have travelled a damn fair distance to be in this crap stain of a city. All to see the Sphere of…’
Jon Curnow stopped listening to the phone altogether and placed it next to him on the seat, the shouting voice of Ambrose lightly echoing through the speaker.
‘Ambrose annoyed as per usual I assume Sir?’ Eli craned his head backwards
‘He’s never in a good mood, just usually he’s further away’
It was then that the faint voice of Ambrose could be heard from the phone, ‘Hello? Are you there Curnow? CURNOW?!’
Jon quickly picked up the phone, ‘Hello, yes sorry Ambrose. It’s this weather couldn’t hear you very well. I’m sure Eli will get me there as soon as he can’ and with that he clicked off the call and swiftly turned on the phone.