Chapter twenty two
The Green-Gas Factory
-‘That’s if this contraption ever gets to the top.’-
We were all off for the weekend. It was raining incessantly and the buses were late. Jerry drove us to the bus stop in a Pools van, and we were parked up waiting. Macker, Bernie and Josie hadn’t come.
But Maggie and Lucy, were making whoopee with Moonbeam in the back, plus me, Sol and Maxie, three bikes and boxes of gear, and food.
They were coming to attack the Air Factory. ref 1 Air and NH3 tech
It was me, Barney, who had been given the information.
Plus I was from the area myself, and I knew the place well.
The rain was dinging rhythmically on the metal roof.
We had zero proof that anything would happen, but luckily the Pools had believed us. They knew me. We used to send them crowds of kids on excursions and De-schooling projects. We did call an online vote, but too late..
-‘Why do we go to an Inipi Party in the rain?’- asked Lucia.
Me and my partner Maxie were off on a semi secret mission for the Defence Coordination. The rest were going to a weekend party.
-‘But it’s always raining.’- said Maggie. As if that made it make sense. -‘This is Solstice Awakening, it’s a Coppice Club party. You’ll love it.’-
-‘Excuse me, what is a Coppice Club? No, first, what is an Air Factory?’- asked Sol.
So I told them the story…
-‘The Air Factory was an open-caste mine in the Lapwing Mountains near here, that was shut down about… more than ten years ago.
Before going bust they had installed a brand new four kilometer conveyor belt, all the way down to the valley where the ore used to be unloaded into barges or lorries. Even back then those valleys were full of CoOps and Collective farms. Where they infiltrated the outer forgotten suburbs and closing down industrial estates, that’s where the first Pool area was set up.
‘The Magic Power of the Air Factory’. A local mechanic called Grubby Raptor, what else, stripped down and adapted his little car to go on compressed air. With a pre-heat gismo that made it really zip.
YIPPEE. You have to all say, Yippee.
Soon all his friends were doing the same thing, but their boss banned them from filling their old gas canisters in the garage.
BOOO…Come on. All together
So they built a windmill, but that wasn’t enough, so they dammed up a stream, but soon they had too many customers, really you need a lot of air bottles..
So they done a deal with the CoOp Credit Union and the creditors of the ex-mine, hooked up their air compressors to the braking system of the rock conveyor belt, and the Air Factory began.
Hurray, hurray, hurray!’-
-‘That’s all there is to it?’- Lucy asked.
-‘Basically, well, people said they were destroying the western wilderness, but they made um, -‘Unique Deep-Lake and Cliff Habitats’- up there, and a lot of new coppicing and the-‘Bear and Eagle Sanctuary.’-
-‘It’s a great place. We used to camp there every summer, when the only way up was a donkey path. The top part is run by Clan Eagle now, they have a hostel and a camp-site as well and er, they do the powered gliding and flying courses there. Me and Macker and Maxie are gonna learn to fly there.
We help take care of the middle level, which is enormous, with a De-school project and soon the Adventure Way..
So anyway, the Air Factory was held up as a parable of collective ingenuity triumphing over capitalist lunacy. All kinds of machines and tools were fitted out to work on compressed air, though vehicles and factory were soon converted to NH3, which is much better and also CO2 free. Thousands of tons of falling rock began working for us.’-
-‘But what happens to the rock?’-
-‘Most of it goes away by barge. They use it for sea defences, trying to stop the sea from flooding in. And they’re converting some bays to fish and shellfish farms, spawning grounds and, and harbours and new marshland. And.. and who knows what else they do, cement I think, finally all that rock is not nearly enough!’-
-‘The difference is these people know what they’re doing.’-
-‘They work with the Free-Uni and they.. ‘-
-‘Look here comes the bus.’-
People appeared like magic, from another parked van and a car and various doorways and we all spilled out and started loading in the bikes and gear. Maggie and Moonbeam got straight in and reserved us the back seats, but there was enough room for everybody.
-‘An air bus. My first trip in an air bus!’- said Sol as we pulled away.
-‘It’s not an air bus. It works on NH3 ammonia. Maybe bio-gas I don’t know.’-
-‘It’s an air bus!’-
-‘No no, it’s an NH3 bus Sol!’-
Only later I realized the guy was taking the mickey.
-‘Mama lookat mama lookat.’- Moonbeam had spotted a man who was leading a lot of wet horses.
In the coach there were some Clanners in green militia caps and pocket-belts, some of them specialists on their way to the Air Factory as well.
They knew me, and a couple, who introduced themselves as Marcus and Anna, came down the back, and pored over our big army map.
-‘Well not much chance of anything happening in your top section. Too hard for them to get to.’- said Maxie.
-‘Oh don’t you know, we just heard. A helicopter was spotted at dawn this morning, up above the cliffs. There really will be an attack, it’s not just a rumour.’-
-‘What!?’- I gasped.
-‘Clan Eagle and people from the coppices reported it, unloading in the mist on the high moor. It was on the news just now. A chinook they say.’-
-‘But that’s an enormous thing!’- says I -‘That means sure they’ll attack from above, just cut the cables! I hope they got those maintenance clamps on.’-
I was digging out my phone to check it out.
So me and Max spent the next hour on the phone, though the reception was mostly awful, while the bus squelched, and slid through mud.
We splashed up flood damaged roads and out through the suburbs.
Everybody was talking non stop and eating sambos already.
By now it seemed we wouldn’t even get to the Air Factory or the meeting in Duncantry, because we were told the military police had closed the only road.
There had been a little confrontation between the police and some armed Clan Warrior, who had finally gone over the mountains on foot.
Maxie, me and our Clanners would do the same. We would cut across by forest tracks, through the maze of coppice plantations. Not so far from where Maggie, Lucita and Moonbeam and others on the bus were going to the Spring Solstice Inipi party.
-‘Hold on tight!’- Our bus had taken a bend too fast and was trying to throw us all on the floor.
From Rosana’s place it’s maybe just an hour’s walk by a cliff path to the conveyor track.
Unfortunately it’s surrounded by swathes of new woodland, providing excellent cover for any saboteur raiders, with access paths and little clearings, between the layers of trees.
The bus bounced slowly over a ramp and negotiated the first hairpin bend.
I took Moonbeam on my knee and we played peekaboo with her. Then -‘I spy something green.’- Meanwhile Maxie queried some details with the CLAN specialists, looking at the big map on the vibrating bus floor.
Sol had been filming his ‘background footage’ from the window, and asking a lot of questions. Now he was yawning and patting his stomach, munching on one of Bernie’s vegetable patties.
-‘Wanta bitta patty!’- He broke off a bit for Moony.
-‘What you looking for on the map?’- he asked.
-‘We know where the mercenaries were dropped off, we wanna know where they’ll camp, and attack.’- Maxie explained.
-‘Are these all houses? And forests?… Where will it be the party?’- Sol pointed.
-‘Here, Rosana’s Coppice Circle.’- Maxie said.
-‘Then around here, in this forest.. so many paths!’-
-‘No no Sol, that’s miles away from the Air Factory.’-
-‘Their boss say ‘get the factory’. Okay but they gonna have some fun as well.’-
-‘How do you mean?’- I asked.
-‘Catch some girl or kids for sex, maybe.’-
-‘Come off it Sol, that’s never happened!’- said Maxie, shocked. And he shrugged.
-‘First one here then.’- he said -‘In my country thousands have..But..But ask Lucia if you don’t believe me.’-
Maggie and Lucia were still talking urgently, arm in arm like sisters on the bouncy back seat.
They hadn’t been listening, but when I questioned Lucia with the map, holding it up in front of them, her finger hovered, and picked a spot near Sol’s, by the coppice farms.
-‘My turn. Me.’- said Moonie. Jabbing greasy fingers at a lake.
-‘Oh shit oh shit oh shit.’- My guts were flipping. -‘Then we should be evacuating all the coppice farms not just…’- And I slipped up my headphones to try and phone warnings.
I thought I knew something about guerrilla warfare, now it seemed I’d been naive.
-‘How long till we arrive?’- Sol asked, with a burp.
-‘No not long, less than an hour to the pass. That’s if this contraption ever gets up.’-
-‘If the old engine holds together.’- said Maxie.
-‘I come with you and Maxie and these Clanner soldiers, no? Maybe the camera is more
stronger than the gun.’- Sol observed.
-‘Yeah all right.’- said Maxie. -‘Though the Solstice Awakening will be much more fun I expect.’-
And she pulled down her cap as if to snooze.
-‘A sol party for me!’- said Sol -‘But is it not just for girls?’-
-‘No no, but mostly women.’- said Maggie. -‘You’re um, very welcome in the kitchen!’-
-‘Ha! I am a magnificent plate washer. Bad luck I must to go film some Contra idiotas.’-
-‘Yeah yeah, oh so macho man.’- said Lucia.
-‘Tell me Maxie.’- Sol asked. -‘Explain me what is the Coppice Pool?’-
-‘Oh um okay, well all these mountains were basically, um, bare. Just sheep and bogs, right.’-
-‘Oh Maxie, that’s a valid eco-habitat.’- I interrupted. I wasn’t getting through on the phone.
-‘Yeah but much too much. Nearly all the native forests were eliminated by humans.’-
-‘Yes but what is it like, really?’- asked Lucia [refs.20a.20b.5.permaculture/Climate change.]
-‘There’s all kinds’- said Maggie, joining in. -‘Rosana’s coppice where we’re going is the typical circle, well nearly, with the cliff to the north, it’s maybe half a kilometer across.’-
-‘It’s much bigger.’- I said.
-‘Yeah okay. Divided like the spokes of a bike, or a cake, but with a big hub in the middle, it’s fairly flat and pretty boggy, you need boots.’-
-‘Why is it round?’- asked Lucy.
-‘Um, I dunno really. Each segment is planted with trees one year later, with paths between them. Then after ten years or seven or.. they prune the first segment, to ground level, and the next one is cut the year after and so on around forever. Not by hand, they got air tools.’- Maxie got into explaining.
-‘Not so difficult, once a year.’- said Sol
-‘In late autumn is best. Of course the shoots grow ten times faster than a normal tree. They do let them grow big, round the back by the cliffs. For fruit and nuts and building wood.
Then in the middle they have a wooden cabin, and the fish and swimming pond and gardens, that`s mostly covered now with plastic panels, in winter anyway and also.. ‘-
-‘And the caves don’t forget, very creepy caves!’- Maggie added.
Our bus was swaying round some more tight curves.
-‘Volcanic caves with prehistoric settlements.’- said Maxie.
-‘Ten or fifteen types of habitat altogether, plus the varieties of peat bogs, we have to conserve a part of each.’- I joined in finally.
-‘So what do they do with all the wood?’- Lucy asked.
-‘Make charcoal powder, for fertilizer and export. You get international grants for saving the planet.’- said Maxie.
-‘Not any more you don’t.’- I said. -‘But the Pools help you set up. They started big scale mixed coppice forests about maybe twenty years ago, er, it’s fantastic for all kinds of species. See the charcoal dust is CO2 negative, and nitrogen and methane negative and um, everything else positive, plus they can get bio-gas, and oil I think?
Lots of the De-school Projects have a coppice now, with weekend cottages and greenhouses in the middle and, they make great places to live, and have Inipi parties and..
Before it was all camps and summer cabins, yunkers from the city on wild weekends.. The Coppice Clubs. Now more and more people live up there, at least in the Lapwing mountains, near the city, the other side had no access, it’s wild..’-
-‘And tonight is the Solstice Awakening!’-
-‘It’ll pour down, lash down, piss in boots.. ‘- I said
-‘The forecast is good but..’- Maxie shrugged.
Sol got up, talking to the other passengers and the driver, persuading him to stop to get a good shot of a wind farm. While the rest of us were gradually dozing off. In the back seat Moonbeam was asleep, mouth open, her head rocking between her mother’s breasts.
And Maggie drifting off herself, cradled by Lucia.
We were well out of the city, still climbing slowly. The road was less bumpy, and I was nodding off myself, there was no phone reception, just guiding my mind to think of nothing and breathing deeper as I’d learned to do.
With Maxie using me as her pillow. Her head in my long jacket, and one naughty hand creeping inside my clothes..
Next thing I knew I woke up nearly puking. The bus was making a worrying clanking noise. I needed out, craving that mountain sky.
I’d made a horrible mistake. The Coppice farms needed warning just in case, the Awakening party should’ve been called off, why hadn’t we seen that?
I’d subconsciously assessed these mercenaries by our logic not theirs.
It was our fault. My fault. And it was too late to stop what might happen next.
I breathed deeply but couldn’t banish my nerves, like a nauseous acid rush in my stomach, would I have to vomit out the window?..
But.. Hurrah! We were arriving at the pass, pulling into the viewing car park, where there were two more coaches, several vans and lots of people.
-‘Wake up Maxie.’-
I lifted her heavy head from my lap.
-‘Wake up everyone we’re arriving already!’
- Serial of The Free. Ch 21. Remaking James (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)