Tramadol Ordering Tramadol Order Online Order Tramadol Uk Order Tramadol Online Canada Tramadol Online Overnight Fedex

Any Human PowerManda Scott

Manda Scott
+ posts


You think that the dead watch over you all the time, that whenever you pick your nose, or lose it with the kids and shout something you know you’ll regret, we’re hovering at attic height, being silently, ostentatiously (and hypocritically) censorious.

You think that as soon as we die, we’re cleansed of all that made us human, every single prejudice and foible – except our capacity for judgement.

You think we stand outside time unless we choose to step into it and criticise the conduct of our former friends and family.

You think, in fact, that we are omni-present, projected instances of your parents at their most psychotic.

You are wrong, obviously, but it’s hardly your fault when your entire world is wrought from judgement and its fallout. It’s the curse of modernity, and that’s assuming modernity began around the time of the Roman invasion, if not several thousand years before.

So, let’s clean the slate and start again. We who are not currently living do not nurture the same priorities as we did when we were flesh and blood. Our focus is far more on the love lines connecting us to you than, say, your incomes, your politics, your social status and your capacity to clamber up the greasy pole of your chosen profession, even if you chose it because you thought we’d approve.

All of these are irrelevancies raised as shields by the living to avoid the things that actually matter. Once you’re dead, there is no avoiding anything that truly matters and you will regret every second of life that you wasted on this kind of trivia. Trust me on this.

Back to the point: we who are dead have our own journeys and travails. Yours are no more likely to attract our attention than they did when we were both alive. Which is to say that occasionally we find you riveting. Mostly, though, you are the radio we left on in the background and forgot to switch off. Unless we hear our names uttered in all the white noise, we barely notice you’re there.

In the space between the start of my education and Kaitlyn’s posting of the message that broke everything open, my name was clearly invoked four times. On each of these occasions, I paid close attention to the lives of my family. In between, I had other work to do.



‘Hello, Lan.’


Whatever I had expected, it was not to come back to the Between; me on the shoreline with the sea flat to my left, Kate just out of reach on the sun-bridge.

She was almost exactly as I had last seen her: a distant outline cast in silhouette by the blinding light behind. In the marrow of my soul I knew her shape, the tilt of her head, the sense of her closeness.

‘What’s happening? I thought you were . . . gone?’ Dead, I had language for. For what came next, I didn’t even have an idea to build images around, still less words that worked.

‘I have. She has.’ The figure took a step towards me and it became clear that she was neither cast in silhouette, nor lost in shadow, she was black: hair, skin, eyes . . . everything that had been red-gold was the colour of night. ‘I’m not Kate.’

‘Kaitlyn?’ My gut became lead, falling. ‘You can’t be dead, I just saw you.’

‘But this is not then.’ She gazed at me as if it were obvious. Then, with a Crow-like huff of impatience, she said, ‘Lan, you just gathered enough will to blow planets apart and then used it to cut a rift through time. You are looking into the future. So, yes, in the future I am dead. Everyone dies, you do know this.’

‘But you look so young.’

‘So do you.’

Fair point. A shadow moved to my left: Finn’s Shaolin teacher was standing on the shoreline in the Between as if she commuted there and back on a daily basis. Kaitlyn saw her and bowed as deeply as Finn had ever done.

‘Is she your teacher, as well?’ I asked.

‘Bēi Fēng? Yes. She’s the reason I’m able to talk to you, though when the sun moves another degree or two over the horizon, I think it won’t be possible. Something to do with the balance between light and dark. Don’t ask me for details, I have no idea why things happen, only that they do, and this won’t last long.’

‘What do need me to do?’

‘Watch.’ Kaitlyn waved her hand and by its sweep created a window out over the water. It took a moment to clear, and there, almost within reach, the blue pearl of the earth spun slowly against the backdrop of space. I had always found this image captivating. This close, I felt I was being shown something private, and immensely precious.

‘Keep watching,’ Kaitlyn said, as if there was a danger I might look away.

At her words, a shadow began to edge across the ocean-brightness of the earth. I thought it was an eclipse, which was impressive in its way, but the feel was all wrong. This wasn’t darkness etching itself over the earth, not merely the absence of light; it was the absence of, the eradication of, life.

A mould has life, or a fungus: cancer is life’s exuberance unchecked. This was not that. Rather, it was a devastation so complete that neither life nor hope remained.

It wasn’t even death, this blight: death is whole and beautiful. Death brings peace and, as I was discovering, complexity and joy. They wrought a desolation and called it peace. So wrote Tacitus of his Roman countrymen; old words from a dead age, but they rose up now, and echoed until I understood.

‘Kaitlyn?’ She was still here, watching through the same rent in time and space. ‘Did we make this? Humanity, I mean?’

‘Yes. It’s what we’ve become.’ She corrected herself. ‘What we might become if nothing changes.’ She reached out a hand. She seemed too far away to make contact, and certainly, I couldn’t feel her the way I’d felt Connor in his dream, but when she squeezed my fingers, I knew it had happened.

‘What comes next is going to be bad,’ she said. ‘But you have to see it all to understand. Try not to look away?’

I couldn’t have endured it if she’d not asked. And even now, I defy anyone to watch the things we watched then and not be broken by the end. We know the evils of the world in theory, but Kaitlyn was right, it’s different to see millions upon millions of small acts of unkindness stack up and up and up, to see them multiply and spread like a stain across the heart-mind of humanity.

In graphic form, we watched the poison of hypocrisy and avarice and the careless annihilation they evoked. We watched wilful sadism spread wide and the strident mob destruction that was so readily stoked in its defence. We watched war used as a weapon of power by small-minded men of who cared nothing for its impact. We watched great, gaping holes eat away the hearts of otherwise good people who believed that they could consume their way to happiness. And we watched as the endless flow of discarded poison destroyed all life in the oceans and then on the land.

We watched the beauty of the world, its splendour and majesty, replaced by futility, misery, despondency, desperation, horror and a creeping, insidious terror that ground down hope, day after day after day until nothing was left to reach for the light, until—

—in the heart of darkness, a spark of green-sun-wild-possibility flared into life, a small chime of defiance set against the cataclysm.

Captivated, I wanted to nurture it, love it into existence and when it set down roots and began to grow, I dared not look away, in case my inattention undid it.

‘Come on.’ Kaitlyn pushed and we fell. Together, we swooped down until the chaos below resolved into people.

The life-spark looked up. ‘Lan?’

‘Kaitlyn? The spark is you?’

The jolt of my shock broke everything open. The earth shattered into ten thousand fragments, and we were back at the sun-bridge.

Panicked, I looked down at my feet. It was one of the first ways I had learned to get a grip on a dream. When I could see them clearly, I looked up. Kaitlyn was still there, a silhouette against the too-bright light of forever.

Tentatively, I said, ‘When I came into the void last time, we kept coming back again and again to see as many possible futures as we could.’

‘Yes, but this time there’s not much variation on the overall theme. You’d struggle to catch the nuances of difference. We can try if you want, but I don’t recommend it.’

Just the weight in her voice was enough to close off that avenue. I felt cold, and it had nothing to do with the void. ‘You were right then,’ I said. ‘And Kirsten was wrong.’


‘On the bed, earlier this evening.’ And when even that didn’t ring bells, ‘The night before the equinox. Kirsten talked about three kinds of hope. You told her there was no hope at all. You seemed quite cheerful about it.’

‘I did, didn’t I?’ She pulled a face. ‘But Kirsten was right. I was wrong. There is still a path through, though if we’re honest, it’s more of a tightrope strung across Niagara Falls and we’ll all be riding monocycles and juggling flaming chainsaws.’

‘That’s pure Eriq.’

‘Exactly!’ Her grin was kind, like her mother’s. ‘The point is that there is still hope, just that it won’t be easy. I want to help, but the me-that-is-here has no way of reaching the me-that-lives or any of the family. You might be able to, though. This is our chance.’

‘You know I can’t talk to them? I can’t tweak the operating systems like I did with Finn. That was a time-limited thing. The newly dead have licence and all that.’

‘All I know is that you’re the wildcard, Lan. Nobody knows what you can do, only that you’re resourceful.’


I must have wilted, because she tilted her head. ‘I think it would be good if you could keep the me-that-lives from being afraid. Could you do that? I’m a lot more uncertain than I let on. When you get back, it would really help if you could connect somehow, let me know I’m not alone, give me the courage to stay true to the path I’m on. And then . . .’ She looked teenaged, for a moment, and anxious. ‘There’ll be a time when the boys will need you, really need you: Niall and Finn and Dad. You’ll know when.’ She took my hand again, more firmly than before. ‘I know you made one promise and it blew up in your face, but will you promise me that you’ll be there for them?’

‘I can’t say no, can I?’

‘You can. I’m hoping you won’t.’ Time was moving. Kaitlyn was losing solidity and both of us knew it.

I said, ‘I promise I’ll do the best I can when you and the rest of the family need me.’ It didn’t have the weight of my promise to Finn, but it didn’t have the naïveté, either. Further back on the shoreline, the old Shaolin woman bowed her head lower than before.

‘Thank you.’ Kaitlyn was far away, and going further, but I felt her dry kiss on my cheek. ‘It’ll be hard. I do know this. But it’s got to be worth a try.’

‘Kaitlyn . . .’

‘I’m glad I met you. Look after the boys.’

When the rift in time smoothed over, I did not return to the endless void, but to Finn in the dream of his bedroom. The old Shaolin was not there, but I had her name. In places like this, a name counts for a lot.


Born in Scotland at 318ppm CO2, Manda Scott is the Sunday Times bestselling author of mythic, historical thriller series Boudica, and 2018’s standalone A Treachery of Spies which won the McIlvanney Prize for the Best Scottish Crime Novel. She’s been shortlisted for the Orange Prize, an Edgar and the Saltire Award. Manda is host of the Accidental Gods podcast, focused on crafting a route through to a future we’d be proud to leave behind.  She’s an eco-spiritual teacher and regenerative smallholder, based in the borderlands of Wales.


CALL TO ACTION: If not us, who? If not now, when?  We all know the system is beyond repair, but it’s harder to imagine steps that lead us forward through the mess of dysfunctional politics, broken trust and broken hearts to something we’d all be proud to leave behind. Her novel Any Human Power aims to craft a grounded, plausible, inspiring and actionable route map, step by step from where we are towards a future where people and planet flourish together.