When Ned got up he felt hot. He put a hand on his bed and felt his sweat all over it. When his mother was around she always complained that Ned's bed smelt of sweat. Ned could never smell anything and he wondered why everyone but he himself could detect the foul smell of his body odour.

Ned couldn't stand the heat. He opened the curtains and looked out the window. It was a cold day. There was so much snow outside that all the light rays from the sun bounced off several white surfaces before landing on Ned's retina. Ned had stuck a thermometer outside his window and stuck another one inside so he could compare the temperatures. Inside the house it was thirty degrees Celsius. Outside it was only seventeen.

Although he tried hard to block it out of his mind, Ned's fight with his dad the other night was too traumatic. And this morning, remnants of that painful memory didn't go away. If anything, it became worse. His mind must have amplified and exaggerated the negative thoughts while he was sleeping. Everywhere he looked he saw something that reminded him of his dad.

Ned had to get out of the house. Not only did the place remind him of his father but it was also too hot.

Ned walked the streets of London with a warm leather jacket on top of several layers of t-shirts. He also had on thick tracksuit pants with vertical stripes on the side. His feet sliced into the shallow snow like ice picks. The larger ice cubes on the surface of the snow crunched loudly as he stepped on them. All around him people shopped for Christmas presents. Shops had Christmas trees and decorations at the front. Children were running around like pests, every tenth one crying, begging their parents to go home.

A milk bar caught his attention. On the front were the words HAPPY XMAS. Ned walked in and saw bunch of young boys buying food. They all had turbans on their heads.

"Muslims," Ned muttered under his breath. The young Muslim boys looked stern. Ned stared at their faces and formed only negative thoughts.

Ned walked out of the milk bar and continued walking. On the side of the streets he saw an old man begging for money. Ned had money in his pockets but nobody else was giving the old man money, and Ned didn't want to be different. He didn't want to attract attention to himself by doing something nobody else was doing. If he were alone maybe it'd be different.

Another man to Ned's right was begging, not for money but for his signature. "Sign this petition, Boy."

"What's it for?"

"We're part of the pro-choice alliance."

"This is about abortion, ain't it?"

"What do you think about abortion?"

"What does the Church think?"

"The Church is against abortion."

"Then I'm against abortion as well! If you don't like this nation, why don't you just leave?"

"Where to?"

"I don't know. Iraq or some other country that allows you to kill others."

"Do you think that anyone who doesn't follow the government should be sent to another nation?"


"Sounds like a dictatorship rather than a democracy to me."

"No, it ain't a dictatorship. Dictatorships are bad. Like Hitler and stuff."

"Don't you think that in extreme cases abortion should be allowed? What if the woman might die?"

"Look, England is rich and prosperous. We must be doing something right. Who are you to tell us how to run the country?"

"Okay, fine! If you don't want to sign the petition then just go away. I've got to get five-hundred signatures by five o'clock tonight."

After spending an hour walking around the streets during the cold morning, Ned arrived home and went in his room. After seeing so many people on the streets, he felt insignificant. Everywhere he looked he saw other people, each one with a unique and special life. If he took the time to analyse each life he'd realize how large the world is and how small he really was. And what were those people on the streets doing? They were buying and selling gifts for Christmas. Ned believed that Christmas was so commercialised now that people forget about Jesus. After seeing people engaged in trade, he felt isolated from the business world. But Ned always wondered why he had pangs of desire for money. When he thought about it long and hard he realized that money wasn't all-important as some seem to think. But if money isn't important then what is? What should he aim for in life? What is his purpose? And if there's no purpose, why live at all?

Ned picked up The Arkayz Bible from his bed and flicked through the pages. The words flowed seamlessly into his brain via his eyes. Unlike other books he had read this bible was entertaining and profound. The words were written clearly and articulately. Just by reading the bible, Ned felt his language skills improve. In this book he would find knowledge. In this book he would find meaning to his empty and pathetic life.


Ned Wosnitsuj sat on a stainless steel stool in his dark underground laboratory. He was only seventeen. Although he wanted many friends, he had few. Sherwin thought Ned was a scientist, but Ned himself knew he was no scientist. He never took a science class in his whole life. He avoided them, in fact, because he didn't believe in science.

Several candles on Ned's desk were the only source of light. The light illuminated his pale face, which had many spots, pimples, and patches of dirt. His face was so oily that, when he wiped his forehead and cheeks, his hands shone in the candlelight. When he continued to write, his fingers wouldn't grip the plastic pen he held because of the oil from his face. He stopped writing and took out his tape recorder.

Ned had a leather-bound book next to him titled The Arkayz Bible, which he referred to as he pondered. He pressed the red button on the tape recorder and spoke. "If I had a baby boy and a baby girl, locked 'em up in a cell, and gave 'em all the food in the world, would they eventually have sex and reproduce? Is sex innate knowledge or must it be taught? Is sex education necessary?" Ned picked up his bible. "The Arkayz Bible says that sex is not innate knowledge and that sex education is necessary. How can I prove this?"

Ned walked around his underground laboratory and looked at his collection of gold daggers. He picked one up by the handle and lay the blade on his palm so lightly that he didn't cut himself but was able to feel the chill of the cold metal on his soft and warm skin. He had produced so many gold daggers that he lost count of how many he had all over his laboratory. He produced so many others things: spears, grenades, tranquilliser rifles, petrol and fertilizer bombs, nylon rope, and bibles—he had a printing press as well.

Ned's family was not rich. Ned got his ingredients mainly from rubbish tips around London. He spent his weekends walking in tangy smelling rubbish to find pieces of metal he could melt down, or wires for his electronic circuits. A few days ago he found a rusty steel tiger-cage from an abandoned zoo.

Today as Ned looked at the cage, an idea struck him. "I'll need to do an experiment. I need a baby girl and a baby boy. I'll need more than two. I'll need a lot more just in case one of my subjects dies. To produce babies I need to find a girl and impregnate her. There are many girls at school. I will lock her offspring up in this tiger cage and see whether they can reproduce on their own. It'll be a long experiment, but it'll be worth it. I will prove that knowledge of sex is not innate. And with this proof I will back up the authority of the Arkayz Bible."

Ned stopped recording and looked at the bible on his desk. It was open and turned to a page that preached about the evils of money. He then leaned down and touched the pages with his lips, kissing the sacred words, leaving streaks of smelly saliva all over the paper. He could taste the salty black ink with his tongue. So obsessed was he with the words that he swallowed the ink, letting the saltiness enter his bloodstream and disperse itself all over his body, purging him of what he felt was inherited sin.

He kept leaning on the table, looking at the black-and-white monitor in front of him. The monitor was connected to a spy camera on the front porch.

The images were no longer static but moving. Someone was there. Someone was about to come into his house.

Ned looked closely at the monitor and saw a complete stranger limping towards the front door with a walking stick in his hands. "Why would anyone want to visit me so early in the morning?" Ned wondered. "And who the hell is this person?"

When he heard a loud knock on his door, Ned quickly took off his lab coat and threw it on a pile at the corner where all the other lab coats were. He opened a secret door on the ceiling of the lab and used a ladder to climb up. The tunnel he climbed went to a wardrobe in his bedroom. When Ned heard another knock, he ran to the front door and opened it.

Ned saw a typical teen boy. He wore jeans, Nike sneakers, and a denim jacket. He had wildly gelled brown hair and a face that looked almost like a mask. What stood out was the walking stick he held in his hands.

"Who are you?" Ned asked.

"I'm Nora Illetrop."

"Whattaya want?"

"I went to a lot of work to get your address. I want to talk to you about some chemicals you are selling."

"How do yer know I make chemicals?"

"Sherwin told me he got chemicals from you."

"Yer wanna buy chemicals from me?"

"What do you sell?"

"My bestsellers at the moment are the chloroform and the memory loss chemical acognito."

"And do you ever use these chemicals yourself?"

"Why you asking so many questions?" asked Ned. "Police?"

"No! Someone drugged me with what I believe were your chemicals."

"Oh, well I'm sorry. I didn't make these chemicals with the intention of hurtin' innocent peoples like yerself. All I do is sell the chemicals. What the buyers do with the chemicals is none of me business."

"Who buys your chemicals?"

"Many people buy me chemicals from time to time but only few buy lots of 'em. Sherwin Brown brought a lot. He brought so much that I offered him a purchase discount. I suspect he resells the chemicals at his school, St Bom's. He's become very rich ever since he got the chemicals from me. He's got hi-fis and large TVs in his room, and other stuff like that. Well, anyway, if yer want a suspect I believe Sherwin is yer boy."

"I've talked with Sherwin. He told me he didn't do it and I believe him."

Ned nodded slightly. "Okay, well, do yer know Niwrek Yella."

"Yes!" said Nora, who seemed to be alarmed when he heard the name. "He's one of my best friends. He buys drugs from you?"

"He probably buys more than Sherwin. I've only known Sherwin for a little while, but I've known Niwrek for ages. Though he mainly buys chloroform. But a few nights ago he brought acognito. He buys a range of other chemicals from me as well such as memory enhancement drugs and pain-killers." Ned then though for a moment. "What drug did they find in you?"

"Chloroform and acognito. Are there any more people who buy regularly from you apart from Sherwin and Niwrek?"

"Nope. Chances are the person who drugged you was one of those two. I only ever sold acognito to Sherwin or Niwrek. I sell far more acognito to Sherwin, but I sell more chloroform to Niwrek."

"Do you know if any strange person was hanging around the football oval near Bankstown two night ago?"

"No. But I often go to Bankstown Church."

"Okay, thanks," said Nora, walking away.

Ned closed the front door and wondered whether he knew anything about who drugged Nora, but after a while he didn't care.