Act two Chapter twenty one
-‘Dangerous Anarchist Subversives.. High Value Priority’-
James paused, white-faced and sweaty, pinched his long nose and glanced casually behind him. Then he hurried on, a tall figure in black, with brown sunglasses and a plastic bag.
He’d taken a taxi to the city edge of the Ragwort area, had come in a side lane to avoid any cameras.
A narrow street of boarded shops and gaily whitewashed squats. What a mistake to say he’d wear black! No one wore black, not on the hottest day in history, and he stood out a mile, the old men were pottering about in their swimming togs.
James glanced back again. -‘Relax you idiot.’- This was after all a no-go area for police.
He nodded deferentially to an ebony brown lady, who was crossing, with a sausage dog on a lead. Before noticing she wore nothing but a pearl necklace.
He looked up, shocked, and saw a banner reading -‘Save The Bees.’-
The bees? James felt better somehow, passing a tethered donkey, chomping in his nose bag. He’d walked two blocks into another world, and was feeling surreal.
But feeling worse or better, his face just stayed the same.
A sad expressionless face, which hinted only of illness and life in prison. For prison had come hard to James Smith, formerly James Fitzroy-Smythe, first son of millionaire industrialist Malcolm Fitzroy-Smythe.
James had once been a rising star, the darling of the state media, a brilliant young historian and economist. The flashy dresser and flashy talker. James Fitzroy-Smythe, heir to spectacular wealth.
The young bourgeois taking a short cut to the top.
He began opening his shirt buttons, allowing his pasty face to register the slightest of ironic smiles, remembering back…
His path had been firmly set, but within his private self doubts grew. For one thing he hated his father, who was gleefully pursuing classic economic theory. Taunting his victims with arrogant contempt. —Rationalize, cut out, dismiss and close up shop. Reinvest in property and gold.
James dug obsessively into himself, in lonely drunken sessions, but found there only the certainty of annihilation, half seen half remembered glimpses of a terrified animal, crying in the dark.
Only the sum of his memories and experience, soon to be wiped clean, and if they really existed, genetically inherited traits. He could only change, perhaps, by reconditioning himself, by living immersed in a ‘chosen’ and different experience and situation
To remake himself. A haphazard and contradictory project , but one which had haunted James Fitzroy-Smythe, during his egotistical ramblings, conducted over whiskey and sodas in his magnificent apartment.
Now it was a very different James, who walked alone, through the backstreets of Ragwort Pool. Was he lost? He could hear faraway drums, whistles and chants, he knew about the attack on the Gay Club, and the eviction and reoccupation that morning. He knew about the impending storm. But now he was thinking back…
Left to himself he never would have acted. It was the strange and nasty fate of his friend and lover Michael Dalton that broke the mold. A strange doomed friendship, based initially on the excitement of verbal battles.
For despite his middle class origins and his many failings Michael Dalton was irrevocably committed to a workers revolution. Spurning the lures of Party leadership, or a soft job, he and his friends had set up ‘The Wildcats’, an underground organization dedicated through agitation, propaganda and sabotage to promoting the takeover of the workplace by the workers.
Two small kids with bows and no arrows were walking along beside him, but he was lost in his reverie. Then he stepped out to pass a bearded drunk, who was sat comfortably on cushions across the sidewalk.
-‘Would you not have a Euro in your pocket for me Sir?’-
James’s heart jumped up in his throat, and he scrabbled for change. For a moment that haggard bearded face had been his dead friend, Michael Dalton himself!
He gave the man two Euros, why not?
-‘You’re not allowed to give him money.’- said the bigger boy bossily.
-‘He spends it on booze and it’s killing him.’- added the other.
-‘No no I need money to buy a present for my kids.’- said the tramp.
-‘You don’t need money here. He has no kids..’-
-‘Goway you busybody touts, I’ll have you know..’- he began.
-‘He has a credit card but they won’t give him booze.’- the boy insisted, stamping his little foot.
James stepped on. Leaving the officious children, arguing animatedly with the redundant beggar.
A few short months and Dalton had gone forever. Snatched with six comrades in dawn raids and charged first with a supermarket robbery that James knew he could not have committed. He had tried to help but his father was hostile. There was a brief court appearance. Their eyes met in the packed courtroom, Dalton even managed a wink.
But they had been terribly beaten. All had signed detailed confessions. And waivers that they had not been mistreated. Their lawyer was barred for contempt, The hearing was over and there was no bail.
James went home to his own luxury cell, his own private night of mental torture. Finally he suspected his father. He knew Sir Malcolm had had him watched. Michael Dalton was a terrorist and a queer, a mortal threat to the family name. Could it be possible that his father had had him framed?
Red eyed and exhausted, James confronted Sir Malcolm next morning in his penthouse office. Never in his life had he answered him back, and his arrogant father failed to recognize his verbal skills. Playing to his prejudice, then hooking and pulling…
Dalton was gone… Of course it was better for everybody… Of course his father had warned him, how wise… But how had he known?.. And what did his police friend say about the confession?
His father betrayed far too much knowledge of Michael Dalton’s fate. When he left that office James knew for sure, and his father realized that he knew, that his lover Michael Dalton had been disposed of because he threatened the Fitzroy-Smythes.
Worse, his father had enjoyed doing it. James had caught that excited glint in his eye, that breathless voice. He’d seen that the Wildcats had posed a threat to the state terror machine.-
Maybe Sir Malcolm had orgasms over the torture of Dalton and his friends!
Why not? Videos of the torture? Of course there would be! James scanned his memory.. His father hopping with pleasure after the disappearance of his arch rival. And, oh god yes. Laughter, after the death of his poor mother from breast cancer…
So he had acted for himself at last. Ironically in blind reaction and anger. Cutting his family ties, leaving the university and changing his name to James Smith.
Five months later he was arrested, with three others, in an abortive bomb attack on the police computer center. It was just bad luck getting caught on that job. He had been sentenced, in the end, to six years, a light term, and served four…
Now James was willing himself to show no nerves. Not to glance behind, or clutch at the priceless shoulder bag. And he permitted himself the beginnings of a smile. For now he would strike a really powerful blow.
His father had died of a stroke the year before.
Now at last he was ready to act.
So he had ‘chosen’ to sabotage the parasite rulers, not to get back at his dad, he thought, but for himself and all the victims of an evil system..
The lane had come out on the main road, full of people and odd vehicles. Across the road he could see the park entrance.
The leafy iron gate was manned by spiky haired youths, sporting monster tattoos, stuck on their torsos, deep in earnest discussion. The sinister monsters moving their fangs and claws, as their host bodies breathed and chatted.
Two of the women wore gun bags, slung on their shoulders. He accepted a little leaflet and walked straight through the busy Playground Gate, under the slides, swings and walkways.
Then he swallowed, and blinked in blank surprise.
About a hundred naked shrieking youths were playing tag and water wars round a fountain, beyond them stacks of picnickers and sunbathers, joggers and a gym class.
This was anything but discreet, the place was packed. But at least the coppers couldn’t nab him here. He noticed a birthday party, a class Assembly, a demo forming up..
The restaurant tables he was looking for were on the far side under roofs and trees.
-‘Loosen up uncle, have a swim.’- A painted boy was ducking behind him, as he got out his little bunch of lilac for the rendezvous.
-‘Don’t wet my bag please.’- He was detouring away from the pond.
Two people were walking the same way as him. They were walking closer. And closer. He saw they were carrying gun bags.
James just stopped, tried to smile, and held up his empty hands.
-‘Where are you headed sir?’-
-‘I have an appointment to meet Jerry Bonkers in the Gobble-de-Gook Restaurant.’-
-‘Jerry Bonkers!’- they laughed, but then gestured to each other, moved away from him and crouched.
-‘Sorry can you just empty your bag and pockets we have had bomb threats, it’s just routine.’-
James slowly put down the bag. Did they think he was a suicide-bomber? But just then Jerry himself ran up to them, panting. He stopped a few meters off, hesitating and rummaging in his pockets.
-‘Um, hello there, uh. Great job lads I’m Jerry from the Reception group today, you’re James Smith right.’-
Finding his pink security pass he held it up for the Clanners.
-‘Okay okay no problem, er, Mister Bonkers Sir!’-
Jerry blushed ridiculously as they cleared off, snorting with laughter.
-‘Thank you Jerry. Nice to meet you.’-
-‘The demo will be at five o clock, five o clock the demo.’-
James stared helplessly.
Two young women were jogging past chanting, with hopping rabbit stick-ons, stuck on their tits.
-‘The demo will be at five o clock, five o clock the demo.’-
-‘Come on Mister Smith.’- said Jerry –‘Welcome to the Ragwort carnival!’-
-‘Excuse me Max and Barney.’- said Jerry –‘This is our g-guest, James Smith.’-
-‘Hi James I’m Maxie.’- I said.
I took his cold skinny hand, and stretched up to smack a kiss on his gaunt facebone.
He looked like a vampire on holiday, obsessively pinching his bony nose.
-‘Excuse me please my pants got wet.’- I said.
Really I was embarrassed, I mean,to be meeting this weird important dude in my wet black knickers.
I wasn’t keen on this job anyway and I was much too sleepy.
-‘No no, delighted to meet you, Miss. Please, it’s me who’s wrongly dressed today.’-
-‘Very pleased to meet you, this is my, er, colleague, Barney Maguire.’-
-‘Yes. Yes of course.’- he said. Did he know us?
-‘We have a space, uh, booked upstairs.’- said Jerry. –‘But I suggest we sit out on the grass.’-
-‘Inside please.’- he snapped. –‘Let’s get in straight away please.’-
Barney took my hand in his, surprising me as we never held hands, but I didn’t let go, I mean.. Maybe he had got wind, that I planned to leave the house because he was so cold and distant.
In any case I wanted to be pally with him so he wouldn’t be so envious of Macker, but it was working way better than I expected..
Or maybe he saw I was mad jealous every time Lucy touched him, which was whenever she could.
We followed in, trailing behind and self consciously holding hands
-‘My friend Barney!..I’m sorry I got carried away.’- I said.
-‘How do you mean.’-he asked.
-‘Slaggin you off for not stripping in front of the cameras.’-
-‘I felt hurt and ugly, that’s all.’-
-‘Don’t be silly. We’re all crazy about your body.’-
-‘Lies lies. Scrub your eyes.’- he chided -‘It’s you that had us gawking. At your er.. erotic bottom.
-‘Huh! What rubbish!’- I exclaimed. Though I couldn’t help laughing.
-‘And, and of course Punky and Perky, your not quite identical titties. Not forgetting glorious Gloria and your gorgeously sexy….’-
-‘Ah but I ain’t got that big bent Dumbo with the long trunk.’- I hissed in his ear.
Trumping his salacious banter before he went too far,
-‘No wonder you’re too shy to go on telly!’- I added.
How we loved this flirting routine. I was digging him with my knuckles, pulling myself gleefully up his shoulder.
There was a louder rolling grumble that was definitely thunder.
-‘Was it you who told Lucia the name, um, Dumbo.. er..?’- he began, hesitantly.
But Jerry was beckoning us into a little room already.
There was a table with a clean Buddhist style table-cloth, five chairs, potato crisps, a jug of apple juice. Glasses and a candle in a saucer. Plus a dubious ventilator grill. No windows. It was hot and smelly, but the walls had interesting old posters.
-‘This is perfect.’- said James at once. –‘I’m sorry to drag you indoors but you’ll see it’s a good idea.’-
-‘It’s gonna thrash rain anyway.’-said Jerry
-‘If we don’t suffocate in here we’ll be just grand.’- I said.
Sitting on one side of the table beside Barney. With James and Jerry on the other.
-‘Help yourself to juice. Now James we’re here to talk to you as a reception group. You’ve been recommended to us by some of our lot in prison, as you know and, er.. We’ve made a few more inquiries and, um, how about if we explain the setup here in Ragwort Pool and see how you might fit in?’- Jerry explained.
-‘No no, we always let them speak first. Sorry James, we haven’t done this for a while.’- says Barney.
-‘Okay let’s just do that then.’- Jerry sighed.
James looked around at our smiley, tired faces, bag on his lap, and began.
-‘Well thanks a lot for coming I can see this is one more chore for you. For me maybe the most important point in my life. Um, I’m a historian and an economist, but I’ve a fair idea what they’re up to in sociology and psychology and..’-
I was yawning, instantly bored with this terrible fella. I was thinking about Barney and Lucia, if they’d got as far as swapping sexy names they could be together already. Would Barney finally have a girl friend?
I took his hand in both of mine, under the oriental table-cloth. Began pulling his finger joints, till they cracked. I was used to doing as I pleased with him, and him just accepting. Mister Maguire was still my
-‘Of course I know you Barney’- this James was sayingenigmatically -‘and in a minute you’ll remember me, I did some work for the Wildcat’s Defence Committee, and I got arrested on an ill considered job..’-
Barney just looked blank, which surprised me.
-‘..as you may know I was with some of your crowd inside and, well, now I want to help and I can do something really good, um…‘-
He stopped, silent. Jerry was taking notes. Barney’s earphone was buzzing. I was rubbing my cheek on his bare arm, resisting a mad urge to bite him. James was scratching his ear.
Then Barney threw up his arms, knocking me sideways!
-‘The Wildcats. Micky Dalton!’- he exclaimed. –‘Of course you’re Micky Dalton’s mate. You’re James Fitzroy-Smythe!’-
James’s face remained immobile. Why the hell hadn’t he admitted it himself?
-‘I was James Fitzroy-Smythe, I.. well, I couldn’t go through with it. I changed my name and disowned the lot of them.’- He looked up into my puzzled stare.
-‘Now I recall!’- Barney was slapping the table. –‘Remember I was thrown out of one of your debates!’-
-‘Uh, no not really, what..’-
-‘Seven years ago. We were disrupting, um, some rightwing drivel. You, as chairman, had us ejected, as we were not college members’-.
-‘Oh God yes, that was you.’- he said. –‘I’m so sorry I don’t know what to say.’-
-‘Say nothing about it.’- says Barney. –‘Times change and people change surely. I’m delighted to see you here in Ragwort so I am.’-
-‘Sorry I still don’t get it.’- said Jerry quietly. Peeping over at James through his fingers.
I had woken up a bit and broke in myself..
-‘So you fell out with your hyper rich family. But why and what happened next?’-
-‘I’ll tell you, privately. See first of all I never really believed in my career. Well the turning point was Micky Dalton getting life for robbery.’- He stopped again.
-‘See Michael wasn’t on that raid, because he was in bed with me that night. We couldn’t prove it. They took him because my father had had us watched and asked his police friends to get rid of him. They tortured them of course. And later caused his death.’-
-‘Jayzus wept.’- said Jerry
-‘What a horrible bastard.’- I added. –‘And I thought my father was bad.’-
Barney just shook his head, we were holding hands again.
-‘He got off on it all right, but I found out…Well I’m only telling you now to explain like my, uh, reason for changing, like..’-
-‘Fair enough’- says I –‘You must have had a hard time.’-
-‘Yes I did a rather.’- He still had a touch of a posh accent -‘but I was such a spoiled brat before. Now at least I’m doing something useful.’-
I could hear faraway megaphones, maybe they were clearing the park.
-‘How much do you know, about Ragwort CoOp Pool?’- Barney asked.
-‘Not much, I came here as it’s near where I live and work. And I knew of a few people, like yourself here. I think it’s revolutionary. but under the guise of something community and harmless. Until The Free Unions sprouted up, and occupations and takeovers of commerce really got going, that’s the main thing I think they..’-
-‘You’re wrong!’- I burst in, angry with this ignorant bloke. –‘You don’t even mention the whole women’s and youth movements. What about the anarchist principals we fought for in the Pools. The De-schools, the coppice farms, what about the CLANs, the projects, like, the basic things which we…’-
But my speech was cut by another muffled smash of thunder, which roared on and on and didn’t really come to a definite stop at all.
-‘They’ve given the Stay Indoors Warning.’- Barney half shouted, reading a text on his phone. -‘Much too late.. They’re having tornadoes down the coast.’-
-‘Oh bollocks.’- said Jerry nervously. –‘Listen Maxie let’s just give him a chance to finish so we can…’-
-‘Give me a chance you mean. Why should I always shut up? You would support him, you’re all jumping on the bandwagon to war. Like this man. It’s all men, trying to force a confrontation to wank their blown up egos. What would happen if..’-
The wall of thunder was rising, with a new screaming whine, I was holding onto Barney. Something moved, then the whole place was trembling. I heard a faraway shrieking. Barney flashed a lighter and lit the candle.
But just then the light came on again and the noise declined.
I blew out the candle, frustrated, but oddly thinking about Moonbeam’s birthday.
-‘I hope this p-place isn’t gonna collapse.’- said Jerry. –‘ I b-bet it’s bedlam outside with.. ’-
-‘You’re right Maxie we know you’re right.’- Barney turned to face me, his voice shaky. -‘Uh, could you just tell us very briefly James what you’d like to do, we have a climate emergency here this afternoon.’-
-‘We can fix you up with a place to stay.’- I said, now feeling a bit apologetic, my burst of anger gone .
-‘And there’s plenty of work to be done.’-
-‘No no’- said James.- ‘I’m sorry about my manner and I take your point about heroes and morons because, because I have spent years myself trying to climb out of that trap. I can be infinitely more useful outside.’-
He had dropped his voice and we strained to catch his words over the thunder.
–‘I am offering you secret vital information.’- he murmured melodramatically.
-‘How do you mean?’- I asked him.
-‘I mean as a spy. I have good and bad news for you, .’- James lifted the thick files and a computer memory from his bag and put them on the table.
-‘Let’s have the good news first.’- says I, optimistically.
-‘Well, okay, since I came out of prison last year I’ve made a start. I have set up a Business Consulting firm called -‘All The Answers.’- as a cover. My father cut me off but finally my sister has signed me over thirty percent. She knows nothing of this. It’s a real business. I’ve built up a team of experts who’re more or less on your side.. sorry on our side..’-
-‘Super practical. Super useful.’- Barney was leafing through the first file, Me and Jerry reaching for the other two.
-‘I’ve risked bringing these files as a concrete blow against an absurd system which I abhor. As well as a proof of what I am saying to you.
The first is details of businesses in trouble and likely to close down soon. And a report on plans to close remaining social services.
The second is a countrywide list of empty or abandoned properties, with owner details and more information. It’s an Occupiers’ bible.
And the third is a secret government file on the Free, including intelligence reports and contingency planning. It’s dangerous but..’-
-‘This is unbelievable!’- Barney was clapping Jerry’s back. Leaning as if to hug James who shrank back, nervously twitching.
-‘Hey Jerry take a look at this.’- But Jerry was on his feet, oddly, tapping on the wall.
-‘Look it’s time I disappeared from here, if I can get away. We should never be seen together again. There’s just a few important details. And er, well I’m sorry to have to say that…’-
-‘Of course, you’ll need contacts in our intelligence groups, you can…’- Barney began.
-’No no, your intelligence is infiltrated. See page sixty eight, Annex XI Report Infiltration.’-
-‘So what do we do about this?’- I asked a good question.
-‘The story I’d like to put out on these two files is that they were found in a container and handed in er. What do you think?’-
-‘Okay I suppose, it sounds like something we could do..’- said Barney.
-‘I know someone’- I said, thinking of a friend of Macker -‘who’d swear on his mother’s grave that he found the files. And take credit for the rest of his life!’-
-‘What about the third file?’- Jerry asked, sitting down.
-‘My idea is we exchange CD’s of Greatest Hits or whatever, through a chemistry student at the Free Uni called, um… the passwords are in here, Maxie, don’t lose it.’-
’ And he gave me a short brown computer stick on a neck-tape. Why me?
-‘It should be just the four of us for now. we’re getting you some special codified mobile phones for emergencies. Um, I have to tell you something else, er bad news for you I’m afraid..’-
-‘Sounds really scary.’- I had no idea.
-‘One thing first.. .We’ve commissioned in-depth reports on the Pools, er on the money-free economy, the De-Schools and Free-Uni, the CLANs as a defence force, um, they’re on this computer memory. Can you copy and pass it round?’-
-‘Yeah I think I could do that, I’ll want to look at it first but.’- I said,
-‘Sorry? Oh yeah. Shit.. the lights..’-
The fucking lekky had gone again. Jerry produced a tiny solar torch and Barney re-lit the candle. I was trying to check my phone messages.
-‘So finally what is the bad news?’- he asked
-‘A new company called ‘Excellent Solutions’ offered us a high figure for a report detailing leaders in autonomous movements, this was a while back.’- he explained.
-‘Just tell us now, what are you getting at?’- I was rude and impatient with him, mistakenly as it turned out.
-‘Okay. They see you as a threat, and a terrible example to all the other bankrupt countries. They want you erased. To them one more dirty war is peanuts.’-
-‘I’ve heard that.’- said Barney. -‘But getting rid of us could be easier said than done. Did you hear what happened this morning?’- he indicated his bandaged ear.
-‘Yes yes. But now they want to start the dirty war.’- he replied.
-’I was afraid you’d say something like that.’- said Jerry. –‘But how? T-Tell me how and that’s something useful.’-,
-‘This company asked for details of strategic economic and energy nodes., they call them. One concrete target was the Air Factory, the main one.’-
-‘What about it?’- I knew all about that factory.
-‘Seems it’s going to suffer a dramatic attack, and soon. Maybe under cover of this storm.’-
Barney rolled up his eyes, looking totally skeptical. What the hell was this guy telling us?
-‘You can’t be serious man, what proof have you?’-
-‘No proof Barney. Our agent found out. Seems like a practice target for them, just to get started like.’-
-‘Well, I know about the Air Factory, as it happens my folks live nearby and helped set it up. It’s right by the Southern Valleys Pools that united with the City CoOps.’-
-‘Well so that’s lucky you know them.’- he interrupted. -‘My man got their codes using a remote access beamer. There’s no way they found out.’-
-‘I don’t get it, why the air factory, I mean, nowadays it’s all ammonia fuel, what are you saying we should do?’
-‘Two things, in this case publicity is okay if you want it. Because it’ll only make them think they have a spy. Second, don’t expect to stop them. We’re talking about money-no-object professionals. It’s a media stunt, they used the word dramatic. Maybe the best thing would be to just close it down, maybe for maintenance.’-
-‘Yes yes. But they use the conveyor line for transport up and down the mountains. Still, that factory is super defensible! I know the place and the people. Maybe they wouldn’t believe me, but..’- He stopped, he was shaking his head.
-‘Um. I’m sorry to tell you, well..’- said James
-‘There’s more isn’t there.’- I said, copping on.
James didn’t respond. Just bit his lip. Then he spoke.
-‘It’s not an accident us meeting, I told you, I came here to save your lives.’-
-‘What, but you don’t know us, are we in danger?’-
-‘I found out ‘who was doing what’ days on Reception interviews, saying I knew some of them, then I picked a day with someone on the list. You, Barney Maguire.’-
-‘A list? For what?’-
-‘Our, agent got a blacklist. Four hundred names they already had prepared. I have it here. Seems they had a big money buyer for it.’-
-‘A blacklist? But what for?’- I asked, but I had a premonition.
He paused as a violent gust of wind began howling above us. We moved closer, our faces glowing in the candlelight.
-‘A hit-list. I’m sorry.. A death-list. They want to start the cycle here.. You know, killings, disappearances, bomb attacks, revenge, um, rapes, threats, black information, and reprisals. Sure they’ve done it all over the world. They’ll attack their own people to have reason to respond. Destabilization. Poisons everything.’-
-‘You’re joking man, here we have about one murder a month. Who are these people? I don’t believe they even exist.’- I thinkBarney was trying to convince himself.
-‘Your name and details are on the list twice Barney. Under Ragwort CoOp Pool, just er, fourteen of you.’-
James was swiveling the pages, holding them right under the candle
-‘God, yes. I do know these people. Oh bloody shite.’- said Barney. His face gone whiter.
-‘And here you are, on a short list entitled -‘Dangerous Anarchist Subversives, High Value Priority Elimination.’-
-‘Well fuck me backwards.’- he said, amazed. -‘High Value Priority no less!’-
Me and Jerry were craning to see. I caught the word ‘Linda’. And there I was as well..
-‘Linda Moon, alias Maxie. Sidekick to terrorist B.Maguire. Vicious attacks on Brother-Hood and
men in general. Frigid dyke.’-
-‘Frigid.. What a cheek!’- I burst out. –‘Only one person would say that. I’ve been set up by Killian Bate!’-
-‘Could be all right, he’s a special prosecutor now.’- said Barney.
-‘I’m not on the list.’- said Jerry. –‘But Killian hates me more than anyone.’-
-‘Maybe they don’t know you live in Ragwort.’-
-‘I’ll check that for you.’- said James.
That high screaming noise was back, louder now, and I realized it must be the wind.
Then the door flew right open by itself. Banging violently on the wall. Blowing out the candle.
-‘Maggie and Moonie and Bernie and Lucía say they’re fine at home.’- I announced loudly.
I could hear shouts and loud scraping from below. Cracking noises from above as well.
We tried to carry on our conversation. But it was just Barney and James talking into each other’s ears.
-‘All hell is breaking loose.’- Jerry yelled. -‘What do we do with these files?’-
-‘I’ll hide them in the Pool offices.’- Barney shouted.
-‘Sorry we can’t hear.. What are you’re saying.’- I didn’t get it.
-‘What was that? We need to get to the basement.. ‘- Jerry shouted.
This was getting silly. The table was moving by itself!
As rhythmic crashing sounds became a roar. (ref.5 )
Shuddering the partition walls. Merging to a higher splintering shriek.
Suddenly impossibly loud. Leaping into a terrifying new dimension.
I freaked, dropping my mobile. Started a yipping scream with my hands on my ears..
People with torches were blundering into the room. Yelling and duckng..
One was behind the door. Hiding her head..
We were about to die horribly.
Jerry had nipped smartly under the table. Pulling James down by the wrist.
-‘Come James. The roof.’- He fell in his arms.
Crack Crack Crack, squares of the false ceiling vanished upwards. Debris was whipping round us. Barney and me were holding each other, his ratty hair blowing in my face. I’ve never been so physically terrified,
Then everything was shaking., as something very heavy was slowly caving in upstairs..
Barney was pulling me with him. Crawling blind to the thick side wall..
I couldn’t hear myself yelling. I just saw dust and flashing as the screaming crescendoed..
The lights were gone again. Blackness. Coughing and choking..
But then the noise was subsiding already. And then the volume was turning right down. The roaring and crashing just stopped completely. Moments later there was a shocking silence. Some light came in the missing ceiling. An ominous creaking.
A tornado had gone right over the solid old convent building and into the park.
-‘Talk about climate chaos!’-said Barney, coughing in the dust..
-‘Everyone okay here?’-
-‘It stopped. Um, well it passed. We’re s-safe!.’- said Jerry. Coughing and waving his little flashlight. Helping James out from under the table.
-‘I thought we were all gonna die.’- I found the candle at my knees and re-lit it, but moments later the lights came on.
-‘If the roof beams went we’d all have gone through the floor.’- Barney said, peering up.
-‘It could still happen.’- said James.
I noticed that I’d wet myself a bit. Yuk! I’d have to wear those soggy jeans.
-‘If it’s s safe to move we should um, all go downstairs.’- I advised huskily, getting my voice back.
Barney and me were still holding onto each other, both of us badly shaken. He was showing a message from Marty in Phelan’s. Over there they were all in the cellar, holding hands.
-‘I’m told we should be in the basement by the main walls.’- he said too loudly. -‘They’re saying the worst could be yet to come!..’-
But for us the worst had passed. The wind went up to hurricane strength force-two, but we weren’t touched by another tornado.
There were maybe forty people in the basement, the warehouse and the Caff.. We had a makeshift clinic, two student doctors, and lots of helpers. Just small injuries at first. Three injured people stranded nearby were brought in. And soon, wrapped in a blood stained sleeping bag, we had a dead body.
James stayed with us, he had no choice. He turned out to be practical and likeable, when you got used to his Dracula appearance and weird manner. At least we got to know him a bit, and he and Jerry became friends. Which is great as Jerry’s terribly shy, though much younger, and both of them are gay, of course.
I didn’t really know what it all meant at the time. Figuring it like another malicious threat from Killian and his mates. I didn’t really believe they’d be getting funded to murder people.
I couldn’t believe they’d really hunt us down.
- Serial of The Free. Ch 20. Gobble-de-Gook Café (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)