Bernly Normal was a man who caused those closest to him to rock back on their heels and say that his name was more contradictory to him than knickers on an avocado. His world was a world unknown to even those that knew him best. He walked the line between reality and insanity frequenting the latter considerably more than the former. His imagination knew no boundaries and though many may believe that this would be an admirable attribute, it was what had lead him, not all together willingly, into one of the finest and yet most chaotic situations imaginable. He was, at heart, a nice, kind and caring member of society.
He frequently gave to charity and it was not unheard of for him to give up his spare time to help those less fortunate. Unfortunately, politics being what politics are in this day and age his angel-of-mercy exterior hadn’t helped his image, career or self esteem to any great extent. He was, in the eyes of his parents, his employers and, if he was honest, himself a failure both romantically and economically. That should have all changed with his new position. Yes, it had improved his status and yes, it had improved his income but that wasn’t what he was looking for.
He was looking for recognition. The day it began, day break had come bringing with it inevitably the sound of singing birds, whistling milkmen and the petrified screams of Derek, the postman once again being attacked by Mrs. Mason’s Alsatian- Poppet, a dog the size of a small horse with fangs that a wild cat would be proud to call his own. Bernly’s eyes fluttered open as the postman flew past his window, his screams acting as a natural alarm clock, automatically bringing life to the unconscious body lying under a small mound of bed linen.
Some days he had enough energy to aid Derek in his battle against Poppet but having neither the time nor the energy rendered it impossible for him to help his friend on this particular occasion. He reached out in search of his monocle but finding nothing except the remains of last nights spaghetti managed to stir himself enough to sit up and wipe his hand clean on the quilt. Cleanliness was not one of his strong points and never had been, his philosophy being the if he left everything on the floor that he knocked over, he wouldn’t be able to knock it over again and thus the traumatic experience would never have to repeat itself.
In his world this logic was sound. Moreover, one must always remember that, in his world- the epitome of abnormality- nothing was ever as simple as it should be. Finding his vision blurred, once again, Bernly found himself attempting to find his monocle and, having located it, took a moment to get his bearings. He was not naturally a large man, his frame only reaching the not-quite-dizzying height of five feet. His wispy white hair shot off at numerous angles forming into strange peaks and horns, seemingly untameable.
He wore his monocle in his left eye, it verging on the size and shape of a jam jar’s bottom. In his mind it gave him the air of one not unused to drinking the odd martini, wearing suits to dinner and having the background of English aristocracy. However, his code of dress did nothing to substantiate this. He had taken to wearing: dinner trousers, although on occasion these had been swapped for what can only be described as a lime green lycra codpiece, shirts of numerous colours and hues, a single bowtie worn to fit any occasion and sandals favoured by the nations more elderly citizens.
Quite an odd spectacle to see especially walking into the security department of one of the greatest intelligence agencies in the world, but, as already established, Bernly was not one to conform to the ways of the world, indeed he was not one to conform to anything he thought as ethical or a priority in society. It was because of this that he had been chosen. They had sifted through many hundreds of unwary contenders and he had triumphed. He had beaten them all. He was the grand finalist in the saddest-act-of-the-decade lifetime achievement award.
He was to be part of the future of modern science. He just didn’t know yet. On the other side of town Bernly Normal was once more the centre of conversation between two men. The first was saying, “Really, I don’t see how we can. He would need to sign his consent and unless he is deaf, mad, blind and very forgetful that seems like a rather doubtful option. ” Yes, that factor would be detrimental to the whole operation, the second, one Major Hackman, explained, but there would be all probable chance that Normal would have all of the qualities listed above.
In fact, one might even be pushed to consider a reward for his efforts. “Something small, a new computer, or some paid holiday. We could even stretch to a promotion. Leave him to me I’ll get him to sign his consent. We’ll make something useful of him yet. ” ” But surely he knows where he stands with the ministry. It won’t work, I tell you. He’ll see right through it. We’ve never endeared ourselves to him to any great extent before. He’ll wonder why we are now. As a matter of fact, I don’t understand why we are endeavouring to soothe his ego all the while when a simple order should be called for. The second man explained that, considering nobody was willing to entrust the Bureau’s security into the hands Bernly Normal, it was imperative that he should, at some point in the not too distant future, be cast out into the open world. Is the world ready for him yet was the question that was left unspoken.
After all, the second man continued, it was a question of national security. To do this however, they must turn him round to their way of thinking, to make him believe that he was doing it because of his intelligence and skill. After all,” he concluded “it is necessary to get totally behind someone before you can stab them in the back. ” Oblivious to the plans being made in his absence Bernly carried on his normal routine as per normal. It was true, he wasn’t well liked at his work place but it wasn’t because he was annoying or irritating, it didn’t actually have anything to do with who he was as a person. They disliked him because of what he was within the Bureau but especially because of how he got to his position.
His predecessor, George Donnelly, was, many people thought, a reincarnation- Henry VIII had come back to life as London executive. He was rude, brusque and always right. Those under his control were often seen quivering in his doorway, the phrase ‘off with his head’ hanging in the air like last nights curry. However, this dominating authoritarian wasn’t without a sense of humour. In fact, to make sure that a part of him, or at least a reminder of his long lasting reign, remained in the work place for a good while after he was gone he sent a message from beyond the grave.
In his will he stated that a long lost nephew of his was to take over from his position after his termination or more probably death â€“ he didn’t plan to retire, they wouldn’t have it that easy, he had thought, and he was right. And so it came about, two years later Bernly Normal was instated as Head of Bureau Security. He had been chosen as the messenger, the permanent reminder: George Donnelly always had the last laugh. Some twenty minutes after Derek’s cry for help had awoken him, B. Normal was well on his way to work.
He tottered along the M5 into London on his purple moped, the wind blowing against his hollowed cheeks like a million pin pricks all at once. It was his way of waking himself up so that he was bright eyed and bushy tailed for the present work at hand. He slotted into a parking space and began his assent in the elevator to the thirteenth floor where everyday started and many days ended. As the elevator doors opened he could already hear the buzzing of an office full of people ready to begin their day. The smell of fresh coffee drifted towards him, whilst workers talked and chatted amongst themselves.
Telephones rang and the fax machine spewed forth what seemed like a hundred miles of incomprehensible writing. He felt whole, he felt like he was part of the team, he felt- ” You have just reached the thirteenth floor. Please mind the gap. ” Ah. That same digitally enhanced voice that one hears everywhere told him that he had nodded off. The lift doors retreated into the wall and Bernly stepped forward into the deserted floor. There was no hub of activity here. No phones or coffee. The carpet was worn, the plaster peeling. One small desk and a chair sat at the far end of the huge room.
Reality strikes again, he thought. They had told him that because his position was so senior that he was allowed a whole floor for his office. The first sign of underlying animosity had appeared and he had failed to see it. It was then that for the first time in his new career the voice from the lift sounded of its own accord. Bernly looked up. Into his office stepped a large, intimidating man who said “Bernly Normal? All right china? How’s it going? ” He took a small piece of paper from his pocket and studied it at some length, then with great effort looked up and said. You are kiâ€¦kindly.. um reqâ€¦reques.. you are kindly requested to, um. Sorry, mate.. um” Bernly smiled encouragingly at this stranger but stayed where he was, searching for some means of escape.
The stranger smiled apologetically. “Well them upstairs want to talk to you about some project or somethin’. So I’ve, like, come to fetch you. So we’ll go on up then shall we? After you. ” He said in a broad south London tone. Bernly couldn’t quite put his finger on it but here was definitely something quite menacing about this oversized oaf. They stood in the elevator side by side.
Suddenly, Bernly felt something sticking into the back of his neck. ” This is a gun in my pocket and I ain’t pleased to see ya. Got it? ” Bernly nodded nervously, eager to please. Ah ha, he had been right there was definitely something menacing about a man pointing a gun to the back of your head. “Now the powers that be upstairs, they got a job for you. Sort of an experiment thing. They are quite adamant that you take part. So here’s what your going to do. Your going to go up stairs, accept their mission and me dog’s called Bingo. Robert’s your fathers brother. Capish? Bernly understood very much. Oh dear, he thought. “You have just reached the thirtieth floor.
Please mind the gap. ” said the lift as though none of the previous scene had happened. “After you Mr. Normal” said the oaf in a surprisingly polite tone. Apparently, the lift was not the only thing that had passed the scene off as water under the bridge. As the two men waited patiently outside inside the atmosphere was thick enough to cut with a knife. The Major Hackman sat, arms folded neatly across his lap, waiting in anticipation. This would be it, two birds with one stone.
That was actually the name of it â€“ Operation Two Birds. If the operation was carried out successfully then they would both rid themselves of that fool Normal, and they would be able to test their latest design. They had called it the Hobble- named after the designer who suffered from a limp. This Hobble would be able to transport people back in time and allow scientists to investigate the answers to numerous questions. ‘Was Darwin’s theory correct? Was it a big bang or just a small pop? ‘ ‘Who first invented the u-bend? ‘ It would be scientific history. But before they began they needed to crash dummy.
This is where Bernly Normal fitted into Hackman’s great plan. As if on cue there was a tap on the door and the oaf, otherwise known as Eliot, walked in, Bernly at his side. “Hello, gvnor. I brung ‘im. Here ‘e is. Right as rain. ” “thank you Eliot. That’ll be all. ” How he loathed pandering to that eighteen stone muscle head when needs must, needs must. It was essential that he had that buffoon’s support “Welcome Mr. Normal. Do have a seat. May I call Bernly? ” “You c’n call me what ye want, but me mother alwees preferred ‘oi yoo'” It sent shivers down Hackman’s spine, that unmistakable sound of a Scottish land boy.
This was supposed to be England’s elite not the free for all knees up. Needs must Hackman explained to Bernly about the Hobble. He was quick to cut o the chase and eager to get on with the proceedings though he spent considerable time padding out Bernly’s ego- he suspected that when reality hit it would be with a crash landing. Bernly felt his insides hollow out. What replaced his vital organs seemed like a whole menagerie of butterflies. He looked towards the door which was being safe guarded by Elliot the oaf. There seemed no way out. He would take part in the mission or forever hold his peace.
Unfortunately, he suspected that it wouldn’t be his choice to hold his peace but death which forced him to. “-so you see,” Hackman concluded, “you have been chosen from thousands of applicants to see our world transported into a new era. One small step for man blah blah blah! All that’s needed now is your consent and we are ready to begin. No training is needed. We’ll just pop you into the seventeenth century and back out again. All you have to do is say if it worked and you can go home knowing that you played the major role in the musical of the future.
What do you think? ” Bernly gulped. He looked from Elliot to Hackman and then back to Elliot again, who by now was standing imitating the noose being tightened around his neck. “Where do I sign? ” he asked mustering up all the effort he could to look willing and eager to help. Once the formalities were out of the way, He was lead straight to Hobble room. It stood in all its glory, looking like something of a cross between a tin can and a washing machine, the sight filled Bernly with the kind of dread a kamikaze pilot must feel when hit let go of the steering wheel.
It had wire hanging out of it numerous buttons and gadgets which looked ominous, especially to someone who hasn’t had a crash course in time travel. It took them no time at all to get him strapped in. A small bicycle helmet was perched on the top of his head and the lid of the oversized bean tin closed. That’s when he heard them, the unmistakable sound of hooves. He couldn’t see them, not yet but in time they would appear. He knew this because he’d been visited by them before. They only came when something was about to go unstoppably wrong.
There was a flash of light, the sound of lightening, striking fear into the marrow of Bernly’s bones and then he saw them. At first he had thought that it was the fourth horseman of the apocalypse but upon closer inspection he discovered that it was in, fact, a knight riding upon a great orange donkey with a tousled mane. He had come to know them so well in the past that he had given them both names. The knight he had called Destruction and the beast upon which he rode was named Disaster. For as Bernly Normal knew only too well, where Disaster walked, or in this case trotted, Destruction was never far behindâ