Chapter thirty seven
-‘I settled down to spend the long day crying.’-
I woke with a throbbing headache. It was day, but still dark and gloomy. A bullet or bit of metal had grazed my left arm, causing a cut, that’s all. If it had passed a bit deeper, they told me later, I’d have bled to death. And I didn’t even know I’d been hit!
Plus I was scratched and bruised all over. All alone, I thought, in the forest, cold to the bone, with cold rain water trickling down my neck. So I fumbled and groaned, and found the mini umbrella, still in the rucksack pocket.
I was all in one piece it seemed. Later I discovered little bits of shrapnel in that rucksack. I wasn’t badly injured after all.
But Kazoo hadn’t been so lucky.
I was just so dozy. First I thought I’d pissed myself, but I was more sore and sticky than wet.
I realized I was having a really bad period. But of course I couldn’t have a period.
Then I was fiddling frantically with my pants.
Maybe I’d cut my leg, or the blood was from my arm.
Maybe no baby. A lot of blood had come from my vagina.
And sure thing the future Kazoo had gone with it.
It’s weird how I just don’t react sometimes, when something really bad happens to me. I got out my hanky, the water bottle and tissues and tried to clean myself up. I stuffed the soggy mess under a nice yellow rock, and sat on it, under my little brolly.
Only then little by little, did I begin to cry.
I had lost Macker, and Kazoo too, it seemed. It was my fault, obviously I was being punished. Maggie was gone forever and Barney didn’t need me anymore. Only for Moonbeam would I even think of going on with my life. And I knew she’d be well looked after.
So I just cried a bit more. I settled down to spend the long day crying.
They must’ve heard me, sniveling in the bushes, because I wasn’t left there long.
One minute I was staring blankly at some frondy fern.
Next thing Veera Chimes was staring through it at me.
-‘Maxie Moon? We’re here looking for you. But now we’re cut off as well.. Are you okay?’-
-‘Did you find Macker?’-
-‘Macker Mucdunna. No we didn’t. Maybe he’s hiding, or captured. You both did a fantastic job. Only for those mad Clanners you’d have been safe. Oh Maxie you’re injured. Let’s look at you first..’-
-‘He’s dead, I’m sure. I saw him fall, when they opened fire. He’s dead, I saw him fall. He only came here because I asked him.’- I began sobbing harder.
-‘Now Maxie, there’s nobody up there, we just searched. Just lots of beer cans and plastic rubbish they left behind .. Let’s see your arm now.’-
-‘I saw him fall, like in my premonition. The..the video camera flew up, into the gorse.’-
-‘Camera? He threw a camera? Then he wasn’t dead see. But where is it?’-
-‘Right in the g-gorse, coming onto the top. We filmed the, the whole thing. And I’ve lost the air-gun and the tent I think. Oh shit and where’s the mobile phone?’-
-‘We found a green tent all right.’-
She nodded her head and some of her party scampered off. Then she cleaned my arm.
-‘My name’s Veera.’- she said. -‘Sounds like you’ve had a horrible time.’-
-‘Oh Veera I’ve lost my baby Kazoo as well.’- I said at last, showing my bloody pants under the jacket -‘I was more than three months pregnant..’-
-‘What!? Maybe it’s not too late!’-
-‘No I, I already c-cleaned myself a bit. Th-There’s a bit of her under this stone I think..’-
-‘Oh shit shit how terrible poor Maxie. Oh my darling you poor unlucky girl, oh how awful.’-
She was crying herself and embracing me, then remembered her medical training
-‘..Now you gotta be hard and put that foetus out of your head from the start okay Maxie. Okay will you promise me that.? It’s time to be a hard woman alright, like all our sisters done before. Come on now I know you can do it. You’ll just have your baby a bit later that’s all..’-
-‘But Macker.. Macker is dead how can I? It’s my fault as well he only came for-for me.’- I went on weeping.
-‘Hey enough of that now. Dead men don’t hide video cameras, and there’s no body. Really that’s true.’-
-‘Sure they took it to bury, I never should have…’-
-‘Now stop that now Maxie, they’re arrogant idiots, they could never be bothered carrying bodies. And we found no blood.’-
I think she’d done the same first aid course as me. She’d got my pants down and was dabbing me with iodine, while a young fella with a mustache and headphones held a big umbrella over us and looked the other way, his face all yellowy white.
-‘We gotta move, do you think you can walk? We’ll get you to the clinic in Hankshill. See we can’t get home, we’re cut off. But everything’s normal on this side.’-
-‘Can’t we just walk through?’-
-‘They’re making road blocks and checkpoints. And they’ve arresting some people. Now the Clanners are making friends with them, giving them drugs and food and playing music wherever they stop.’-
-‘No no they want to get in with them and everything, but some have been arrested. Sure thing they took your Macker as well. So we can’t go through, in uniform, or injured, we’re all terrorists to them… Maybe we’ll slip back tomorrow.’-
-‘They’re coming back now.’- Another fella appeared. -‘They’ve found the camera! The film is amazing. And the convoy has finally got moving. They’re being escorted across the border by the Blackroad CLAN!’-
-‘Did you see if they have Macker prisoner?’-
-‘We asked Ernie from Blackroad to find out for us. He’ll ring us later.’-
-‘Let’s get out of here then.’- said Veera. -‘I’m sopping wet!’-
-‘Let’s just go. Let’s go now then.’- says I. Trying to stand up
Act Four Chapter thirty eight
-‘I really could hear bagpipes far away!’-
Thanks to everyone who helped write this part.
I was delighted with myself because I had been able to zoom in on the Clanners defiant escape from the military. I got them on video, firing air guns and arrows at the army vehicles, celebrating their escape when Maxie blew up the bridge.
-‘Run, run, run Macker run..’- she cried.
I almost lost my life getting that sequence. The moment the Clanners went out of view I ran for it. This huge noisy helicopter was about to land on top of our little camp site. I ran after Maxie, zipping the camera, it was just a few meters to the edge and a drop into a thick wood.
Running like rabbits but too late. Those bastards just opened fire on us without warning.
My mind was working at warp speed, like it knew it was about to stop forever. I threw the camera hard as I could, into some prickly bushes.
But just as I did so I missed a jump, tripped on a rock and fell headlong.
The luckiest fall of my life, into a boggy hole with a splat, because at the same moment a terrific explosion went off just behind us somewhere. I was flat in the mud, dazed and winded and just gasping for any bit of air I could get into me.
But I was okay, little by little I was coming round.
I needed to find Maxie fast, I needed her to be alive!
Then there were a couple of soldiers clambering past, ignoring me. I wiggled my hands and smiled, figuring they were less likely to shoot me that way. Three more had appeared and noticed me.
They seemed to be taking aim, I would be difficult to miss!
-‘Excuse me excuse me have you seen two white goats back there Sir?’-
I said as loud as I could gasp.
-‘My goats. I’ve lost my goats!’-
The first soldier lowered his rifle.
-‘Kid says he’s lost his goats man.’- I caught the twang in his voice.
-‘American! Hey you Mister American hi there Sir. You wanna little grass, no seeds? Hey American you seen a coupla goddarn goats back there? Or you prefer a little black hashish, personal use only, anyone interested?’- One of them was nodding. -‘I tell you what pals since you just arrived I can make you a special free offer today only… ‘-
I didn’t dare stop talking, two of them were looking at me gravely, like they were waiting for me to finish speaking before casually finishing me off. No problem to me of course, the talking, I was always a chatterbox, but then a young wiry haired officer pushed through.
Corporal Burnsteen had arrived.
-‘Don’t shoot him boys remember we’re community soldiers. We need to talk to the locals.’-
-‘Maybe he’s a suicide bomber.’-
-‘Maybe he just blew those bridges. Search him Carl. And Buddy and Willy, search all round here carefully.. You boy what’s your name?’-
I managed to slip Carl a ready made joint as he was searching me.
-‘Hey keep your hands up! Tell me, how can I get in contact with the local police force?’-
-‘Oof… Tricky one.’- I tried to laugh. -‘They were finally disbanded and abolished last year.’-
-‘What! So there is no law here!’-
-‘Well really there’s thousands of laws. They vote every weekend on them.’-
-‘But.. how do they catch criminals?’-
-‘Um, tricky as well. There’s no crime here really. Since they legalized drugs and abolished money I mean. Why steal something if it’s free?’-
-‘That can’t work. No money?’-
-‘There is a price in wurts, just we don’t need to pay. Can I get up now Sir?’-
-‘We’re here to bring back law and order and restore the legitimate government. We need a strong loyal police force to help us.’-
He had nodded to Carl and I was allowed to extricate myself from the muddy boghole.
-‘Everyone knows why you’re here Sir. It comes on the telly every day. So you guys may as well just tell the truth. Hey why don’t I advise you Peace Police! You don’t know too much about this place.’-
-‘We found a gun Sir, down the bank there.’- Buddy and Willy were back already -‘It looks like an air rifle. And a good cellphone, look..‘-.
A big wave of golden happiness broke and splashed all over me.
Maxie was alive! They’d found the rifle and the phone, but there was no talk of blood! No body., sure she was alive! I felt like hugging them.
-‘And an empty pussy cat purse with Maxie Moon written on it.’-
-‘Is this weapon or that phone yours?’-
-‘Not at all commander, that’s a toy gun, for scaring off those goddarn crows and jackdaws, in them there cornfields.’-
-‘Don’t talk shit sonny. This is a lethal weapon. Found ten meters from you, in a terrorist bombing post. Carl, lock this prisoner in the ATC. We find your prints on that gun boy and you’ll do thirty years.’-
That didn’t worry me much. In fact I was elated, walking down the hill and chatting with the squaddies. Number one, I was alive, two, it looked like Max had got away, three they hadn’t found the camera with film of the bombing… just as well! I
If I could just slip away now things would be perfect.
But that was before they started torturing me.
-‘Hey Simon here’s a prisoner for you he needs dabs and DNA tests compared with a file on a gun and a cellphone.’-
-‘Hello Simon I’m pleased to meet you Sir.’-
-‘Did you speak to me?’- This guy looked like a pork butcher on his annual outing.
-‘Yes Sir how happy I am to have a Community Police Pacification Force here this fine morning!’-
-‘Either you shut your mouth or I cut out your tongue right now!’- He had me by the collar, twisting it to choke me. I nodded and grinned sincerely.
-‘Oh Carl, by the way,’- I gurgled. -‘could you possibly loosen these hand-ties they’re cutting the blood at my wrists.’-
Carl would’ve done it. I’d forgotten to pull and tighten my muscles when they put them on.
-‘I’ll see to my prisoner.’- said Simon -‘You insolent terrorist shit!’-
He cut the wrist bands, passed my hands through a prints machine that pricked my fingers, and slipped on new ones. Behind my back, a knee pushing me down. Then pulled and jerked them twice as tight.
-‘Ow ow ow that’s way too tight Sir.’-
-‘That’s it. That tongue comes out.’- And he had a big razor in his hand!
-‘No no the Sarge wants to talk to him. He said he’s not to be harmed.’- Carl had hung around to put in a word for me.
-‘You’ll destroy my hands Sir. The blood is stopped.’-
But he was taping my mouth over with a wide duct tape. This time I remembered, and opened my mouth just as he did it. Pulling it down slightly so it wouldn’t block my nose.
Then I was in a dark stinking armoured vehicle, free to move around, and trying to be busy not to think about the pain in my hands. The hatch let in a line of light, and I could just about see out.
More and more soldiers were arriving on foot and being let bivouac there in a field of poppies and thistles, while they waited for their vehicles to catch up. Me and Maxie had delayed a whole army.
My improvised prison was full of plastic crap, half eaten junk food and McDonalds happy meals. A piercing stench of piss and shit and sweat. Rotting trash and stinking tissues. In the cracks there was packed sand, this van had seen some colonial desert.
So I got into managing my pain. I had no choices and plenty of experience. But after a long hour or so I knew my hands would soon be permanently crippled.
I was standing up, shaking my head violently, moaning and crying out and stamping my feet. My world shrinking in, till all there is is pain.
My feet stamping by themselves in time to the distant pipes..
Pipes? Yes.. pipes! I really could hear bagpipes far away!
Next thing I was trying to get a sideways angle to see out the crack, like a drunken swan, waddling with my hands behind my backside. Nothing, clouds of dust and wind flung leaves. A big storm gathering..
Then they were appearing, yes! Coming slowly down the hill. One two three, a dozen, lots of them!
Shaven and, tattooed, more than half naked, wearing pouches, wide yellow arm bands and leather belts. Some in black. Some in green. Some on ponies. Steering their big wheeled trolleys, loaded down with beer and ice. With bagpipes, trumpets, quivers, and the mockers blowing!
The Clanners! Clan Yeti were coming back! see Glossary, Wise-Mass
The chosen strategy was to subvert, infiltrate, convert and corrupt. We’d have preferred a guerrilla war of course, but a series of Wise-Mass votes confirmed the policy. It was better, we thought, than the pacifist alternative.
I knew all that, in theory, but these country Clanners had heroically run away, then just gone home, got their friends and their woeful music, and all of their home brew beer… And met the invading army head on, before they had even gotten across the border!
I wasn’t left there a minute longer, the officers were outside dithering over whether to open fire, arrest them or tolerate a social exchange. Corporal Burnsteen had me taken out to give them the lowdown, and with my hands freed, though still hopping and shaking my wrists in agony, I was ordered to oblige
-‘Of course your mission, as Community Commandos, is to make friends with these harmless, er, hippy types.. So that the message goes back, that our cultures can unite, as one family, in peace and harmony with.. ‘-
-‘They’re handing out marijuana Sir, and good beer!’-
-‘What, for free?’-
-‘They have a donations box. Victims of Corporate Terror.’-
-‘They sure are lousy businessmen. Look Wilky that girl’s wearing nothing!’-
-‘They’re painted on! Lily pants and jungle fruit!’-
-‘And that guy there. He’s got a vampire bat dick. And, oh my great god look!..
Two gorgeous looking lads were strolling round the bend, holding hands, in shorts, suspenders and tails. Real tails.
-‘Oh my gawwd
They just had to wear them. The latest rage in fake prehensile monkey and parrot tails. Controlled with their P belts by a little box, tiny hydraulic tubes and an air-canister.
Plus a judicious swing of their sexy buttocks.
-‘Body art, monkey tails, stick-ons, you want some, you need some now?’- I said.
-‘Let me get a photo, hey you girl.’-
Simon had a gun stuck in my shoulder blades. Still, I thought that was the moment I should’ve made a break for it, while they were gaping at the bodies under the art.
-‘Here’s a copy of
the booklet, I confiscated one.’-
A young sergeant appeared behind the armoured car.
-‘But this is a What’s-On mag, with a yellow phone guide.’-
-‘They’re handing out local cellphones as well, there’s a free offer.’-
-‘Anybody want fresh plums and apples? They’re very sweet.’-
One of the trolleys had an amp and lorry battery, and a skinny black Clanner was strumming out a mock-Country singalong.
Another was starting to mass pr
oduce popcorn, while circles of soldiers gathered to fire questions.
Flirting openly already with the Clanner women, who were laughing and handing out those pink plastic instruction cards, on how to avoid committing Shit-Ons with them.
-‘It’s too late already to stop them.’- said Corporal Burnsteen to the officers.. Hands on his head. -‘They just took over, look at that! This mission is a trip to another planet.’-
Just then some kind of officer appeared.
-‘I’ve got the forensic scan results for that prisoner sir.’- My heart fell and I was groaning inside. -‘He handled the air-rifle, very powerful but not fired recently. And the cellphone as well. It’s not analyzed yet.’-
-‘Okay boy you’re up for interrogation. Any more details?’-
-‘Yes Sir. Both items were handled by a second terrorist. Young woman, less than twenty, fair hair blue eyes about one meter eighty, maybe pregnant.’-
-‘It’s her!’- said Burnsteen
gleefully. -‘We have her photos already, running away. What is the name of your accomplice sonny?’-
-‘YEEEEE HAAAAAAA.’- I shrieked. Too late with my Clanner whoop, and started yelling.
-‘Tell them I’ve been arrested. Tell them.. ‘-
Simon the butcher just grabbed my hair and twisted, nearly wrenching my head off.
But the Clanners did hear me anyway. I heard them whoop and shout something. And I was seen, getting my mouth re-taped and my damaged wrists re-banded, and being kicked back into the van.
Sure thing some friends would try to get me out.