I must confess, after living with Aunt Claire for seven years, just as isolated as I was previously in my father’s library night after night, my perceptions of reality were twisted. I had no friends to speak of, and took to wandering the neighbouring forest for hours on end. Aunt Claire’s age and waning health meant she was never too concerned about my whereabouts and I revelled in nature, as a stark contrast to my upbringing around machinery, science and mathematics.
My father’s death, which occurred only days after I was exiled from him, came as no surprise. Nor was it surprising that it was at the hands of Colonel Maurice Van Riper. Van Riper was never tried or brought to justice for his actions, my father’s official cause of death being suicide by overdose. Cruel though it may sound, my father brought it upon himself. His web of lies grew so large that he had no escape, and although his final act was selfless, in sending me away, I still wonder if he had any idea what impact his fantasies would ultimately have. A child without a father, a wife without a husband. And for what? One old man’s escapism.
In my early twenties, with no sense of direction, no formal qualifications and no network of contacts I am ashamed to admit I did the only thing I could to survive: I propagated my father’s myth and undertook speaking engagements all over the world telling anyone who would listen about the Great Machine and the work we undertook to transmit intellectual matter through time. My lectures were an unmitigated success, and I travelled the world for the best part of ten years getting paid very well to demonstrate a small prototype (in reality a dummy box adorned with typewriter parts and a smoke generator) which of course would always encounter some last-minute problem that would stop the demonstration dead in it’s tracks. On occasion the crowd would become unsettled and vocal about my apparent failure but the confidence of my patrons and my soothing speaking manner invariably won them over.
And so I went on, until a speaking engagement in York, England one summer went very badly wrong. I was at the point in the lecture where I was [page ends]