By David Foote

I am… that is, I was, a broker with Dalian Futures in Shanghai. I had a gorgeous 3 bedroom apartment in Century Park with wood floors through-out, views of the river and a hot tub in the ensuite bathroom. Bay windows like you wouldn’t believe and a pretty but boring, blue eyed bitch of a girlfriend. She wrote “Celebrity Image Consultant” under profession on her visa forms, and didn’t give a tupenny fuck how many kids in Guangzhou she’d sent blind hand-stitching her new gucci pumps. The jungle is no place for bleeding hearts after all.

If that all sounds like some gutless middle manager’s twisted wank fantasy… if indeed you should experience jealousy, do not panic. That is the reaction my lifestyle was intended to provoke. Every empire has it’s Nero after all. In the sage words of Axyl Rose, “nothing lasts forever not even cold November rain”.
I guess we all have our own ideas about how all this started. In my case though, it started with a dream.

I was stuck in a broken turnstile, unable to move forwards or backwards. I thought…no…knew, I was in the Philippines… maybe in Manilla… and for some reason it was very important I catch the next train. There were long cues at all the turnstiles, although the other lines were moving well, and I remember some Filipino behind me getting frustrated, shouting at me and pushing. The public address system seemed to be malfunctioning as well, and kept cutting in and out, “will be” …[pop]… “-eparting from plaform” …[bzzzt]… “five minutes. Babae at Lalaki, ang” …[clickx2]… “sa Quezon Avenue, Kamuning, Araneta” …[hideous feedback]… “paalis mula sa platform ng isa sa limang minuto.”

Some of the station security noticed what was going on in the line behind me and so began to move in my direction, pushing through the crowd heading onto platform one. I checked my watch. It’s a Rolex Submariner. The 2010 model with the enamelled green face. It’s got that sweep they say you should look for when you’re buying one, so you know your not getting a fake. Instead of ticking from one moment to the next, the second hand sweeps around the dial.

6.30am, Wednesday, June 18.

That sticks in my head, because its at that point that I start to think I might be dreaming. A small, but insistent part of my sub-conscious knows it was Monday when I went to sleep. Suddenly there is a pop and a flash of light, and when I look up I see the crowd surging back towards me and away from platform one. I see a man stop running and brace himself against the crowd. It looks for a second as if he is praying and then he explodes.

Time stops.

Security are caught in the act of drawing their pistols, too slowly. I see individual screws and iron bolts from the bomb scything out through the crowd. The bomber stands transfixed and bloated, his body now more air and flame than skin or muscle. A girl, probably no older than 11, is frozen in an attitude of fear and pain as a piece of PVC pipe from the bomb casement slices off her leg.

And after that I woke. It was all very vivid. I may have been crying I don’t remember. I checked my watch. It must have been, I don’t know, three or four in the morning. I don’t remember off hand. It took me a while to get back to sleep, I know that. Elaine slept through the whole thing of course, which isn’t saying a lot. After two Zimovanes Elaine could sleep through an actual bomb going off.

The next day at work I felt like a sack of stones and rags, all leaden and spongy. For anyone who is unclear on what I do, or did, my job was to take other peoples money and use it to bet on the future performance of different markets. A futures contract is an undertaking to buy a specified amount of something, say apples, at a specified point in the future for a specified price. If the value of apples were to rise above the agreed price and the contract had matured then that meant a profit for my client. On the other hand, if the price of apples looked like it was going to tank, it was my job to sell the contract on before it started to cost the investor money.

“Imagine your futures portfolio is an aeroplane,” I used to tell my clients, “and the individuals futures are its passengers. With the autopilot on, that plane can fly itself from London to Los Angeles just as well as a human could under normal circumstances. Mind you, when your cruising at 20,000 feet and one of the engines catches fire, who’d you rather was at the controls? Dan Dare or Robbie the futures trading robot?”

In case you were wondering, I’m Dan Dare in that analogy. That morning I was Dan Dare on two long blacks, a couple of neurofen and three hours sleep but I was Dan Dare none-the-less. I kept falling into a waking dream where limbs and severed heads would gently arc across my periphery. Wasn’t going to stop me doing my job now, though was it? Your damn right it wasn’t. All in a days work for the Pilot of the Future let me tell you.

Our firm was the only one on this side of the Huang pu with real coffee. Mr. Liu, the Executive VP was a sucker for it. Obsessed as only the born again can be and too anal to order it in from the starbucks down the street. Instead he sent his PA, a gorgeous little Hunanese skirt called Judy, who had an MBA from LSE, eyes that said “come kiss me” and a mouth which said “I bite”, on a Barrista course. He also had the board put a espresso machine next to his office. Officially it was all about creating a “culture of excellence” or some shit, but the upshot was that, between his love of coffee and his superb taste in totty, there were nearly always more IT guys hanging out by the coffee machine, chatting to his secretary, than there were actually manning the help desk.

But Judy must have been on a break or something. The corridor was unusually quiet. Our technical services manager was still hanging around like a bad smell though, fiddling with the knobs on the coffee machine and staring wistfully at Judy’s desk. “Morning Finn,” he said which is my name.

“Dave,” I replied, which was his.

“You look like shit man. You coming down with something.” Dave never really got the hang of tact. He’s Afrikaans, though. They come out of the womb like that apparently.

“I don’t think so mate. Not unless you can get PTSD from dreams.”

“STDs? Shit… what kind of fokked up dream sex you been having my friend? Am I in these gay STD dreams or something? Is that it? Cause you know man, I’m happily married.”

“PTSD, you muppet, post-traumatic stress disorder. I had this dream where I was in the Philippines okay… and a bomb went off and now I think I’m having flashbacks. Christ… I can’t believe I just told you that.”

“Wow, thats some heavy, heavy shit man. Heavy shit. You want milk in your coffee or not?”

I said no, and drank deep. “Milk is for the meek and well rested,” I told him. So much for that theory. A humming bird drowning in treacle, that’s what it feels like… overstimulation, I mean. Very difficult to focus.

I think it was Clauswitz who said, “he who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious” and I sure as hell wasn’t in the mood to fight. Around three/three thirty I decided to call my clerk and see if he could come in early. By four thirty I was at home trying to relax, with a half bottle of Glenfiddich, a couple of Elaine’s sleeping pills and Muse on the stereo. Elaine was going on and on about some Fashion thing she wanted us to go to. I gave her the phone and told her to call someone who was into that shit. She stormed out yelling about how we never do anything as a couple, or something. The last thing I remember was the whine of the waste disposal chewing through something hefty, and then I passed out.


“It’s time that the fat cats had a heart attack,
You know that their time’s coming to an end.”

My phone woke me. I couldn’t immediately figure out where I was. I crawled off the couch and fumbled for my jacket in the dark. Muse was still stuck on repeat in the background. “Hello?” I croaked, my eyes squinting against the glare from my phone and my mouth all creaky with half remembered dreams.

“Hi, Finn, it’s Mike.”


“Mike. Your clerk Mike Zhou… from work. So sorry to call you Bro… so early right? Something pretty big has happened though. Xinhua is reporting terrorists have just made some big attack in the Philippines. Two train stations in Manilla were bombed, and the Baguio City Economic Zone and the… ahhh… the Intel plant in Cavite have also been attacked.”

“Sorry mate… I’ve got a head on me like a kicked about water melon. Did you just say a train station was bombed?”
“In the Philippines, yes.”

“Bullshit. Did Dave put you up to this?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Look… y’know… if this is a joke Mike I’m not laughing”

“It’s not a joke.”

“It’s… shit… it’s 6.30 isn’t in Mike?”

“No… I mean yes…. It’s 6.45.”

“Fuck” I was stunned.

“I’m sorry I don’t know what I’m doing. Intel has taken a dive on the ASX and on the NYSE, and the PSEi is due to open in three hours… and who knows what thats going to do. Turn on the News if you don’t believe me.” Silence reigned. Just line noise and Mike’s fear sweat on the other end of the phone. “Finn… Mr. Coen…you still there?” he asked.

“Yeah… yeah I am… Sorry. Look… I’m on my way alright? Watch our margins but don’t do anything else till I get there,” I told him, turning on the kitchen light and filling up the kettle, “just hang in there and call me if anything else changes.”

I hung up the phone, and went back to the sink to turn the water off. It was pooling around something lodged in the disposal. A shoe. My shoe. One of a pair of £500 calf-skin Salvatore Ferragamo’s to be specific.
Crazy bitch. She’s like a two year old on blue smarties some days, I swear to god. I made myself a green ginger tea then popped a couple of Neurofen, to get rid of the whisky and zimmies hangover I had brewing. Sod it, I thought, and got out my phone again,

after which it was back to being her problem.

The whole way to work I was trying to talk my way out of this new mentalism. Like say Mike had been wrong, or maybe I misheard him, and it wasn’t the Philippines at all. Or it wasn’t a train station. As soon as I walked through the doors though I realised self-deception was going to be a hard ask.

There were about 15 brokers standing around the big flat-screen plasma we had up in the lobby. They were watching a grainy video the BBC had pulled off of some Islamist website. A rice-eater, wearing a dishtowel over his face and standing in-front of a flag with a knife on it was jabbering at the camera.

“This day is the dawn of a new day in the Philippines,“ he said. “We no longer intend to limit ourselves to punishing the servants, while their western masters are allowed to remain safe in fortresses of materialism and corporate avarice. This attack was a reminder to the kafir imperialists that they are not welcome in the Philippines, that they are not safe here and that their pornography and their idolatry will soon be wiped from our villages and from our cities for good. There will be more attacks like this one in the coming weeks, inshalla. We are not your slaves.”
After that there was a shot of just the flag, and then they cut back to the news anchor, a pretty young Indian bird clearly trying very hard not to look like a cat caught with a sparrow in its gob,

“Right well… a statement there from the leadership of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, who seem now to be claiming responsibility for these attacks. I am joined now in the studio by Michael Phelps, a Senior Consulting Fellow with the International Institute of Strategic Studies here in London. Michael, at least three other groups are also claiming responsibility for this. Does this mean that by making this statement Abu Sayyaf may just be jumping on the band-wagon?”

“Not at all Manisha. The reality is that Abu Sayyaf is the only group in the…ahh…region to have the organisational ability to pull off co-ordinated attacks of this…well, this magnitude.”

“They’re the most likely culprits then… in your opinion?”

“In my opinion they are…yes.”

“Whitehall has obviously not had a chance to respond officially to these attacks yet Michael. When they do respond how likely is it that they will also name Abu Sayyaf as the responsible party here?”

“Oh well…they are unlikely to…ahh… speculate at this stage I’m afraid. But I can tell you that this will undoubtedly be the position of the British intelligence services moving forward, and that the…ahh… Filipino government will also be taking this statement from Abu Sayyaf very seriously.”

“Alright, Michael Phelps from the International Institute of Strategic Studies, thank you for coming in.”

“Thank you Manisha.”

That was enough for me. The animal noises coming from the back of my throat were starting to scare people. You ever have one of those moments where you suddenly realise that either you’ve suddenly, inexplicably been granted a super power, or your batshit insane? Of course you haven’t. Which is why when people say, “oh I know exactly how you feel,” I am forced to reply, “like fuck.” No one knows how that feels, except for other crazy people, and the fact that I’m not actually crazy is beside the point. I didn’t know that then and, more importantly, neither did anyone else. I faked a coughing fit and got the hell out of there before someone called building security to have me escorted out.

Mike was sitting in my cubicle with a face like a dropped pie, tabbing from the stock charts, to weibo, over to BBC and back to the stock charts again.

“Just tell me what’s going on with the market Mike, ok?” I told him, “I’m not in the mood for a human interest story.”
“They are already saying that 12 people are confirmed dead.”

“Christ. What did I just say? I said I only want to know how our contracts are performing.!”

“I was giving you context.”

“If I want the context Mike I’ll read about it in Mother Jones for christ sake. What are the stocks doing.”

“Okay, okay sorry. They’re -” he said, then paused, looking at me carefully, “Are you alight Finn? You’re acting a very strange.”

“It’s 7am you pillock. My brain is still in bed next to my bloody girlfriend. I am more than entitled to act a little bit weird. Now are you going to fill me in on the market or not? Either way you can piss off out of my chair.”
I sent Mike home. He was crowding me. Besides, the idea of actually seeing that little Indonesian girl, the one whose leg got ripped off in my dream, alongside the rest of the carnage currently festooning the news, was terrifying; and I had work to do. Dan Dare to the rescue. Time for the pilot of the future to save the universe once more.

All you pious soapdodgers that think enlightenment can only be attained by giving away all your material wealth couldn’t be more wrong. In my experience just moving it from place to place in large enough amounts is at least as effective. Doesn’t turn you into a sprout munching, limp dick hippy either, which is a definite plus in my books.
For a few glorious minutes that morning, I was the disembodied mind of the market floating serenely above the world. Traders, corporations and regulators; all connected by an enlightened web of self interest and I was the spider at the very centre of it all – waiting to swallow up the ignorant and unwary. I took in all the negativity of the day, pushed out the bits I didn’t have time for… the dream, the little girl, my ruined shoes… and I made the world a slightly better place with what was left. For me and for my clients. Until Dave showed up in my cubicle that is, with a bacon and egg breakfast roll in one fist, a cup of takeout coffee in the other and a shit eating grin plastered from one side of his stupid yarpie face to the other, “you dreamed about this didn’t you man? Didn’t you?! You know what this means right?”

“I..I don’t know. I’m busy. You’ve got yolk in your beard.”

“Ag thanks,” he told me, wiping both the egg and the smile off his chops with the back of his hand. “You could be a psychic.”

“I’m not a psychic.”

“You sure?”

“I don’t want to think about it Dave. I’m busy,” I told him and went back to my moving averages.

“Yeah but, imagine if you were though. You could…I don’t know… go on TV or something. Maybe you could go on that American show…what’s it called? Psychic Challenge?”

“I’m not going on Psychic Challenge Dave.”