A Scottish man awoke unattended from a five year coma yesterday and found himself wandering the streets of Edinburgh in only his patient gown, caught in the middle of a nightmare landscape of diametrically opposed placard waving humans.
With his hearing still yet to return, the 42 year old man, Alistair Craig, a delivery driver from Broxburn, became increasingly agitated and hysterical as on every street corner he found yet more mobs urging him to join them in their mysterious campaign. Scared and confused, Craig attempted to find shelter in a nearby building, only to find that the windows of each were also marked with the distinctive affirmative and negative logo’s of the bizarre gatherings.
Eventually, Craig found an unoccupied house, as yet unmarked. Presuming the house had once belonged to a poor soul that had now gone over to the sign-holders, he bathed, clothed and nourished himself from the little he could find in the abandoned dwelling.
Exhausted from his escape, Alistair fell asleep in a comfortable armchair, only to be woke by an ominous knocking coming from the front door. The joy of finding his hearing had returned was soon matched by the terror of what lay in wait.
He looked out sheepishly through the blinds to see a group of suited men and women gathered outside. As he could see, none of them were holding placards. His heart beat fast as he realised they may be other survivors, and hastily he opened the front door to the apparent leader of the group, a thin faced man with parted brown hair and a tired look of diminished ambition hidden behind the smile he just about managed to crack.
At first the guttural mumbles of the man seemed incoherent. Alistair feared his ears had not yet fully recovered. He shouted out in fear.
“What’s happening? Help me! I don’t know what’s going on! I don’t know what to do! Please, please help me!”
The man at the door gave a wry smile over his shoulder to his entourage. He spoke again, and this time Alistair could decipher some of the words.
“Then you’re exactly the kind of person we want to talk to! We can help you.” he said, his eyes flaring up like pilot lights in a rusty boiler.
“Thank God!” exclaimed Alistair, “I thought the whole world had gone mad. Nothing makes any sense anymore. I don’t, I don’t know what is real. Who are you?”
The brown haired man smiled and cleared his throat, “uh well, I’m Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats…”
For the first time in his life, Alistair was glad to see a politician. He must be leading the remnants of the population who hadn’t turned to the placards, he thought. All the other, proper, party leaders must have been converted by now.
“… and Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom” he continued, “can I ask, will you join with me and Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservatives, and leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, in sending a clear message?”
What is this madness? Thought Alistair. The Liberal Democrats, in coalition with the Conservatives? The world had been flipped turned upside down.
“Wh… what message?” Alistair asked nervously.
“Why… ‘NO’ of course!” said the one who called himself Clegg. Suddenly, all the people in suits pulled out banners and placards and leaflets, and held them aloft, waving and smiling and grinning, and gritting their teeth.
Alistair tried to close the door but a black shiny shoe jutted out and blocked it. Alistair backed off as the mob approached. He tried to run but stumbled over the footing of the stairwell. He hit the ground with a dull thud and turned to see the leering face of the deputy leaning over him with a badge in hand, the pin catch open and advancing upon his chest. Reflected in the watery eyes of the brown haired man, Alistair could see the word ‘no’ printed on the badge.
“God no!” Alistair shouted, just before he fainted and all was black.
“That’s right!” said Clegg.
Today in Edinburgh, a broken man stands on a street corner shoulder to shoulder with others. He sees another crowd across the street on the opposite corner. They are not like him. They have different signs. How did he get here? What was his purpose? What was his name? A faint glimmer of remembrance sparks in his subconscious, but before it has the chance to burn brightly, a group of people wander into the road. They have no denomination. They look awkwardly from side to side at the two groups that flank them, and form a huddle. Suddenly, the one they once called Alistair knew what he had to do. He raised his placard high.
“No! No! No!” he shouted, and it all seemed so clear.