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Moonshine

17/11/2011

Moonshine                                                              

Making alcohol now came easily to Steve.  He first tried distilling alcohol spirit in sixth form.  It had proved to be quite popular until one 15 year old girl had to have her stomach pumped out one Friday night.  When the department staff had found the cupboard with all the necessary paraphernalia gurgling happily away they were quick to identify who was responsible.  Steve’s status as son of the chair of the board of school governors ensured the whole business was hushed up and that no further classes took place in the labs unsupervised.

Steve’s chemistry grades got him to Sheffield University where it was far easier to obtain privacy, the retorts, flasks and condenser, and better grade raw materials.  He was able to fund his MA without difficulty and his work placement at BP in Swansea led to a job in bio fuel development.  In university Steve had also developed an extensive knowledge of herb lore.  While on the surface this may not seem the most obvious of pursuits, the search for a legal high held rewards and no prospect of doing time. It was his encounter with the herb rue, a herb with supposed magical healing and catalytic properties that proved the most promising.  Steve decided to experiment with the properties of the herb and was pleased with what he found.  While giving a bountiful amount of oil, the rape seed plant – a preferred candidate for solving the worlds energy crisis – was not as efficient as Steve and BP thought it could be.  After molecule smashing the two together (chemists don’t do gene splicing) Steve’s results were spectacular.  The fuel produced was a big improvement.

Ever since the governments’ introduction of the minimum price for a unit of alcohol, Steve had been increasing the size of the deposit he would make on a house.  Brewers had responded to the tax and the corresponding crash in sales by making their drinks weaker by volume.  This was a useful outcome if you ran the NHS or worked on public transport at the weekend, but if you were young and hell bent on oblivion down Wind Street in Swansea then you made sure you had a bottle of Evian with you containing an oomph courtesy of Steve’s industrial paraphernalia.  Security on the doors had never been able to discern anything wrong with the plastic bottles of water people carried around with them these days and let them through.  Given its success with the rape seed Steve naturally tried adding the herb to his “off sales” business.

Steve and Sherry’s Saturday night out started after “Match of the Day” had finished.  The cab dropped them of at the top end of Castle Street near the station and straight into the “Bar With No Name”.  The atmosphere was buzzing with the kind of intensity usual reserved for New Year.  Steve had opened the lock-up garage where his stock could be sold on Friday and everything had sold. That wasn’t unusual; the palpable energy at the bar was. People’s energy seemed limitless, where there was space to dance near the back of the small converted pub the dancing was more gymnastic than rhythmic.  Sherry had come back from the loo where she had topped up her drink from her “water bottle”.

“Wow that’s livened that up,” she said. They stayed until Debbie and Joe had joined them for a drink and then the four of them left for the “Ice Bar”.  It was now close to 1am and the street strobed with mini-cab brake lights flashing.  The road was dotted with clumps of people supporting the less able in their group, holding their shoes in their hands, or their hands to their mouths, weaving and stumbling along the narrow street.  Then the full moon came out from behind the seemingly unbroken cloud and shone full upon them all.  Large numbers of the revellers froze, looked up and began to briskly walk unheedingly towards it.  Others laughed or scolded their friends at their strange behaviour but were unable to deflect them from their path.  Steve had the same problem with his three friends, none of them would respond to him, or stop for him if he got in the way.   Then the moon went behind the cloud and everyone came to a stop.  Those working the street and sober, looked around as if perhaps they had been the ones who had been drinking and had hallucinated the whole thing, the moonstruck were not aware of what they had done.

‘Come on’ said Joe as if he hadn’t been acting strangely at all, ‘we need to get into the Ice Bar before it gets full up. It’s only one of the few open until 3 am you know.’

Things in the “Ice Bar” were literally melting it was so packed and vibrant.  The bar was literally made of ice but the top of it was puddling quite a bit as the freezer beneath it struggled to keep pace with the heat the clubbers generated.  The four friends partied until the end. Steve had forgotten the weirdness from earlier but was brought up with a shock when they left, their senses, still reeling from the booze and the noise of club.  Joe, Debbie and Sherry froze in the moonlight beaming down on them from a now cloudless sky.  As one they headed purposefully towards the moon.  Steve could also see they were heading for the bay.  As they reached the busy Oystermouth Rd, cars honked their horns as more small groups of revellers marched carelessly across it. The moon shone above the Museum of Wales and the leisure centre where it seemed to Steve the sky was lit by blinking blue light.  He clung to Sherry, only slowing her down slightly.  Joe and Debbie were already across the road.  Steve left Sherry once they were across the road and raced ahead to Joe and Debbie who had rounded the leisure centre and were now heading for the dock.  The sight before him was chaos.  Police and emergency crews were trying to divert the moonstruck away from the dock edge but they seemed unstoppable.  In one place they had managed to stretch a trawler net from one of the museum boats, but the moon still drew them on, more strongly here as its light was reflected in the bay.  There were police in dinghies trying to hook people out from the water.  The half drowned seemed normal for a moment until the caught sight of the moon.  A policeman took his coat off and put it round a girl he had just dragged half naked from the water and as the coat covered her eyes she stopped struggling towards the light.  Steve ran back to Sherry, shrugged her out of her cardigan, went behind her and flipped it over her head. She stopped, snapped back and shouted at him to stop pissing about.

‘Listen Sherry,’ He said.  ‘There’s something wrong with the moon tonight, something hypnotic.’

‘Just get my head out this bloody thing will you’

‘No Listen, it seems to not be affecting me, but some of these people are my regulars, they’re behaving like literal lunatics.’  The idea of blindfolding people had quickly caught on amongst the rescuers; the tricky bit was persuading the moonstruck to keep the blindfolds on.

‘Why isn’t it affecting you then?’ said Sherry, ‘Why isn’t it affecting the police?’

‘We’re sober, or pretty close to it in my case. I didn’t have any of my moonshine tonight.’

As he said it, Steve knew he had arrived at the truth of the matter. Rue infused moonshine, a magical herb, taken in the magical power of the full moon had done this to his friends.

 

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