Many years ago, I had a dream that was on the scale of an epic movie. I was in the lead role, and there were hundreds of other people involved, including Tony Blair, who was the Prime Minister at the time. I don’t ‘do’ politics, so for me to dream about any politician is saying something, but the fact that it was the PM himself who appeared adds a little more emphasis to the dream.
I was starting work in a new job, although at the time I didn’t know that this was a cover for the task that had been planned for me. I arrived at this office building to find it locked – and empty. A few other people were also milling about, slightly confused, so I presumed they had turned up to start work too.
I was about to set back off home, when a black limousine pulled into the car park, and two men and a woman got out of the car. Very important looking, and imposing in their jet black suits, dark sunglasses and slicked back hair. The woman also had vibrant red lips, and it was she who opened the door at the back of the limousine.
Out stepped Tony Blair – of all people; although I thought he looked a lot shorter than he appeared on the news reports – and he started walking towards me. The woman was by his side, and the two men followed slightly behind. The woman shouted to all of the other people to gather round me, and it took about twenty seconds or so for them to group together.
Tony Blair started to speak by apologising for the way he had gathered us all together. He needed to do it this way because, although we were starting a new job, it wasn’t the one we were expecting. The government had been working on a project to create an underground kingdom, and they needed certain people with certain skills to fill specific roles. The project was classified as ‘completely unlisted’, which was way higher than ‘top secret’, and it couldn’t be mentioned until this day. He went on to say that we were under no obligation to take the job, but we had been specially selected for our skills. (I was confused because I didn’t think I had any skills, but sometimes others see things in us that we don’t see in ourselves. I had Tony Blair telling me that I had these required skills, so I wasn’t going to argue.)
A couple of the others decided not to take the job, because they didn’t want to work for the government, so they were paid a year’s salary there and then, for what they would have earned in the first year if they had started work. They were also told that they should never mention the project under any circumstance; and they agreed.
The rest of us were asked to get onto a bus that had pulled onto the car park, and we would be taken to the correct location.
I don’t remember the bus journey, and the next thing we were standing in a field with nothing around us. In front of us was a small manhole cover, which had been revealed by the turf that was covering being peeled back. We were told to go down the ladder beneath the manhole cover, one at a time – this was very important. I was to go first.
The hole was dark, and I could only see the first few rungs on the ladder. I started down the ladder, which after a few steps became encased in a cage, and the more steps down that I took, the artificial lighting started to brighten my way. I could now see down this ladder, but not to the bottom. I reached a sign that said I had a further two miles to walk before reaching the bottom. No wonder we had to go alone!
I eventually reached the bottom. The cage had changed into a fully enclosed compartment now, and at the bottom I found myself in a small room, with a metal door with a round window. The door creaked as it opened, and I was greeted by a familiar face. Two familiar faces. Tony Blair and a woman who worked in the local Co-op, who I only knew by sight. I have no idea how Tony Blair got down there before me, as it appeared this was the only way in. Obviously, there was another way. Tony Blair introduced me to Anne, the woman from the Co-op, and said that she was my induction clerk and would talk me through what I needed to do, and would also give me a guided tour of the city.
Anne took me into another room, and asked me to complete a form. She recognised me from the Co-op and said that I would know a lot more people down there than I would expect, although nobody can mention it to anybody. And from that moment on, there was to be no mention of the fact that we were in this place – even though we were. Very confusing, but it made sense at the same time.
After finishing the paperwork, Anne took me through another door, and I was outside. The wind was a gentle breeze, birds were flying passed me into the trees that were all around. The sky was the brightest blue imaginable, with a few clouds that appeared to be quite low. A river snaked around the perimeter of this parkland where we were standing, and apart from the stone wall behind, where the door was, everything seemed normal. Anne said the sky wasn’t real, and neither was the wind. They were both artificially generated. The river was flowing, and alive, there were boats on it and a couple of swans. I could now see archways in the trees. In fact, there were archways everywhere. Anne said that not all of the arches were open, as they all led to different areas of the city, some of which were still under construction.
The boats were the method of transport in this subterranean world, and Anne asked me to get on the next one, which was number 41. The driver (captain?) was someone I recognised from the butchers, and I had to smile at the look of secret recognition that came across his face. Just a fleeting glance and then it was business as usual.
Anne was explaining all of the different parts of the city that needed to be worked on, the accommodation area, the retail areas and the commercial areas all needed some work doing, but there were 30,000 people who were employed by the City so there was enough for the work to be done. Anne said that most people only work one day a week in the City as although it looks very pleasant, it is still underground. I thought to myself that they couldn’t work any longer than that because they have to do their regular job above ground too. Which then got me to think about exactly how many people I knew who worked there… and then my thoughts changed to secrets and lies.
Still, I couldn’t mention it to anyone. I had accepted the job, and I had just found out that I was working only one day a week on it. What was I to do with the rest of my time?
My thoughts ended quickly when I saw one of the other ‘newbies’ who had travelled on the bus with me. He was being shown around by his induction clerk, who I recognised from Coronation Street off the TV. But there was no way we could acknowledge each other apart from that familiar glance. We could communicate as we would with someone in the outside world, but we couldn’t acknowledge the fact that we knew that we both worked in this City. I remember thinking what a strange way to exist, before my dream ended and I woke up.
The feelings from the dream were good – there was nothing sinister in it at all, it was quite comfortable and relaxed to be honest, but the lack of acknowledgement gave it a surreal twist.
And for my job – I have absolutely no idea what it was! I don’t even know what the one I had originally accepted was either, but what I had got was completely different to what I was expecting…