I awoke to another fine spring morning, opening the curtains upon a street bathed in sunshine. I showered and dressed and went downstairs - I was obviously the first up as all the curtains were still drawn. It was such a beautiful day I had to let the sun in, so I went over to the patio doors at the back of the house to open the curtains. As I pulled them back, an unusual sight greeted me - squatting menacingly in the middle of our lawn was a large anti-aircraft gun.
I heard my dad come into the living room behind me as I stood staring at our latest garden ornament. "Morning Rob," he said calmly. "Ah, you've noticed the large anti-aircraft gun squatting menacingly in the middle of our lawn." I nodded, my jaw agape. Despite battling with my own bewilderment I finally managed to ask "Why?" This brought a scornful look from my dad. "If those damned Iraqis come flying over I'll shoot them out of the sky!" he proudly announced. I was of course speechless for quite a while. "But..." I eventually began. "They're in Iraq!"
My dad just stood as he tried his best not to look as if an obvious realisation was dawning upon him. "I know that!" he eventually snapped, walking off toward his desk. I thought it best not to mention it again, and instead watched my dad spend the whole day tinkering with his computer and fiddling with strange-looking programs.
That evening my dad finally stood up from his desk with a manic glint in his eye. "It's finished!" he proclaimed loudly. We didn't dare ask what he was on about, so eventually he instructed my brother to build a paper aeroplane. He dutifully did so, and then my dad told him to throw it out the bedroom window. My brother went upstairs and opened the window, then tossed the paper plane out. I watched the computer monitor which displayed (eerily upon the familiar Windows desktop) a large window, inside of which was an infrared picture of our back garden. Suddenly there came a loud whirring noise from outside as the view on the screen moved to show a small white arrow-shaped piece of paper floating across the air.
I jumped as a series of unfeasibly loud bangs sounded and all the windows in the house cracked and then shattered; everything vibrated violently and the ceiling began to collapse as reams of white-hot tracer fire shot upward to illuminate the night sky. As suddenly as it had began, the deafening noise ended, and a small amount of plaster dust fell from the ceiling onto my dad's head. I rushed into the garden in time to see a few charred pieces of paper fluttering sadly to the ground.
My dad was rubbing his hands with manic glee while the rest if us stood, literally stunned. "Heh heh heh!" cackled my dad, grinning madly. Still grinning he reached for the phone and tapped out a number. "Heh heh heoh hello there, Staybrite Windows? Yes, I'll be needing some double glazing done."
From that day forward we never mentioned the lethal steel monstrosity which sat in our garden. Occasionally my father would use it as "leverage" (as he called it) in order to win arguments, but on the whole, especially if we had visitors, we would keep the curtains closed. Before long, in fact, we had all got so used to its terrifying ominous shadow that we barely noticed it at all.
One sunny day we were all sitting around in the living room with a family we were friendly with. Their three young children played around us as we talked and laughed, and they had all learned not to ask why the curtains were closed so that wasn't a worry. After a while I noticed my dad eyeing one of the children suspiciously, and I looked over to see what was up. Their youngest daughter, a mere six years old, was folding a piece of paper into an aeroplane. I was sure there was nothing to really worry about, but I couldn't help feeling uneasy at the memories it brought back.
Just then, a shaft of sunlight filtered through the back curtains as their little two year-old son pulled one of them open. My dad leaped from his chair - I can see it now, as if in slow motion - launching himself horizontally across the room as the little girl threw her paper plane. It was too late. That sickening whirring noise started up and before my dad had even landed (several feet short of his target unfortunately) it began rapid-firing its white-hot 40mm bullets of death through the patio doors, instantly destroying the glass and blasting chunks of brick and shelving out of the inside of our house as it tracked the tiny paper plane, smashing through our television and furniture as if it were made of cardboard, reducing everything to confetti.
The screams of terror were barely audible above the huge gun's violent death rattle as it pumped round after round of anti-aircraft shells through the living room. The entire house shook and vibrated, a bed fell through the ceiling, and suddenly there was a terrific crash as the whole building collapsed on our soft heads.
The gunfire ceased. There was an eerie silence and a frightening darkness. I heard a cough, and my dad's voice. "Oh..." he said. He suddenly wasn't feeling so big anymore.
I tried to move, but a searing pain shot through me. I felt a warmth spreading across my abdomen, and my heart sank as I realised I had been pierced by the falling pipes. My blood was pouring out of me, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was too weak to cry for help and I was feeling more and more faint by the second. I was dying, and for what? For my dad's mad obsession with Iraqi bombers flying over Solihull. As I gave into the creeping death I looked back over my short and uneventful life. I suddenly realised how wrong I had been all those years, all the meaning I had struggled to find, it was all so futile. Trying to let go, detachment from all things - even enlightenment was futile. I could see it all now, clear as day, the only real meaning to life was... nothing. We are nothing, everything is nothing, and even trying to accept that fact was futile because in reality there is nothing. Absolutely nothing.
A small paper aeroplane fluttered down, intact, and landed on the rubble.