the beginning of the end

Charles, although having a great time in New York, had received several telegrams from his household with urgent matters that needed attending to. He had tried calling, to facilitate the work, but the line across the Atlantic was less than perfect and the telegram he was holding in his hand had finally nailed it to him. He needed to return to household matters in London. Now he just had to explain to Alexa.

To this end, he was in a cab on the way to her apartment, to explain he would be gone by the end of the week and Jack was on his way to the travellers agent, to book his passage to Southampton.

He arrived and was shown into her drawing room by her housekeeper.

“Oh Charles, what a surprise, I was not expecting to see you today. Is everything OK?”

She was an insightful woman and could read Charles’ features like a book.

“My darling, I have some bad news. I need to return to London to attend to some matters. I will be gone by the end of the week.”

“Well, I will come with you then. I am in need of a change.” she smiled.

the resurrection room

There is a room. There is nothing particularly special about the room, it is the same as many other rooms you may have come across. Four walls, a floor and ceiling and a door. It is painted in a neutral colour and is lit in such a way as to avoid glare and harshness. It is of an amenable temperature, controlled by an unseen thermometer and it is quiet. No noise from the outside, penetrates the room once the door is closed and it should be noted that no noise from inside the room, is audible outside, once the door is closed.

In the room are four people. One is sat at a computer terminal, he is a man in his early forties, has rimless glasses on and is beginning to bald in the usual places. One is sat on a chair in the corner of the room, a woman this time, in the uniform of a police officer, a sergeant in fact. She is looking through a notepad and occasionally glances up to observe what the third person is doing. This third person is another man, he is a doctor, of sorts. He is tending to a variety of medical instruments, equipment and small vials of liquid arranged on a stainless steel table next to a medical gurney. The gurney carries the fourth person. Currently she, for it is a woman, seems to be unconscious. She is covered with a pale blue sheet up to her neck and her head is fastened to the gurney. You can’t see them, as they are covered by the sheet, but there are 14 other straps fixing the woman to the table.

“OK, I am ready.” The doctor says, looking to the officer sat in the corner.

“OK, please start recording.” The officer in the corner says to the man behind the computer.

A short pause.

“OK, I am recording.” The man behind the computer says. He has a mild European accent, perhaps German, or maybe Austrian.

The doctor busies himself attaching a variety of electrodes to the head visible on the gurney. Then he picks up a needle, it would be comically long if the length of it didn’t make the instrument so terrifying. The officer looks up, sees the needle and looks down again, she knows what is coming next.

The doctor slowly inserts the needle, into the neck of the head of the body on the gurney. He is observing a small screen on the side table, obviously aiming the needle for a certain place in the neck. A moment later, he stops the insertion and whilst supporting the needle in place with one hand, picks up a vial from the counter and attaches it to the needle. The liquid disappears, as if pushed by some invisible force. The doctor repeats this with a further 7 vials, then slowly removes the needle, places it on the counter and clicks three buttons next to the screen he has just been watching.

The officer stands up and moves into the eyesight of the head on the gurney.

“Should be any second.” The doctor says, as a ten minute countdown timer appears on the small screen.

The three jump slightly when the head on the table takes a sudden breath, the eyes open and flick wildly around the room. Then the breath reverses and becomes a scream.

The officer leans over fully into the eyesight of the woman on the table and holds her ID card well within her vision.

“Jane, my name is Sergeant Smith, you are safe here, I just need to ask you a few questions, I don’t have much time.”

“Time, what, where am I, how did I get here, where is my dog?” The head, Jane, replies.

“OK this is excellent.” The doctor says. “She remembers where she was.”

The computer operator, shifts uneasily in his seat.

“Jane, hold on to those memories OK. I need to ask you some questions about what happened. What do you remember about the park?” The officer asks firmly.

“Where am I, why am I strapped down?” Jane responds trying to move her head.

“I’m going to give her a sedative, should make her less concerned of her situation.” The doctor says and quickly delivers another vial to the head on the table. The change is quite remarkable.

“Jane, the park, please tell us anything you can remember.” The officer says again.

“I, I was walking my dog, it was a warm evening and it had just got dark. I had been walking my usual route and was heading back to the car. Then I heard this noise behind me, sounded like feet running, then, then I felt someone pull my shoulder, so I turned and a man was there, he was holding something in his hand, then all I remember is a pain in my stomach and then I woke up here.”

“3 minutes.” The doctor says.

“We may not need all of it.” The officer said. “Jane do you remember anything about the man?”

“He was a little taller than me and bald, dark jacket, it was so quick. What is happening in three minutes?” Jane tried to move her head again.

The officer stood up, moving out of Janes eyesight. “Let her go, I’ve got enough.”

The computer operator looked intently into his terminal, whilst the doctor clicked two of the three buttons on his screen, before moving into the eyesight of the head on the table.

“Thank You Jane.”

“Thank you? For what? Where is my dog? When can I go home, can I see my husband?”

The words continued as the doctor clicked the last button on his console and then they ebbed away to nothing.

The doctor closed the eyes of the inanimate head.

“Stop recording.” The officer said, then stood up and left the room.

The computer operator stopped recording and fought the feeling of nausea.

where to guv’nor

“Charlie has left the house.”

“Charlie has no idea what to do now.”

“Charlie is lonely and cold.”

Charlie should stop talking to himself he thought.

What was interesting about this, was that the person watching Charlie from the subterranean room with the glowing screens, was using Charlie’s words, to make notes in the logbook of Charlie's movements. The individual thought it was mildly amusing. The individual’s manager did not think it was amusing and the individual would discover that at their appraisal next week. However, for now, the individual was revelling in their wit.

Charlie had stopped walking and was sat on the ground under a tree, looking through the rucksack. He was very cold, so was pleased to find a jacket and a flask of tea in the bag, he poured himself a cup whilst he planned his move.

The railway was his only really clear thought. It brought him in, so it would take him out, but take him out where? He was on the run from the global security agency, an agency that prided themselves on seeing everything everywhere. It was only a matter of time before Charlie was found and then the nightmares would begin.

sparkplug with a roof

“Sounds quite exciting Daniel?” Red said across her cup of builders tea.

“Well it would have been more exciting in your Jag, rather than in a half knackered Trabant.” Daniel replied.

Daniel and Red were in what had slowly become a regular haunt, the back right table of the greasy spoon Daniel had taken Red to months ago. They were generally left alone once they’d ordered food and could see anyone who entered the premises, so they were assured of their safety from prying eyes.

“How did you get the car across the border?”

“I didn’t, I ditched it about two miles out. Gave the keys to some kid who is probably locked up in some gulag somewhere now and did the rest of it on foot. Got a bit hairy at the checkpoint, but I got through. I heard the balloon go up when I was in the safehouse on the western side. Bloody close one.”

Daniel pulled a small flask from his jacket pocket and poured a slug into both of their mugs of tea.

“Shame about that young couple.”

“Yes, much worse when they’re young and innocent, but it gave me an idea for you know what.”

reminiscing in the registry

It had been a long time since Charles had been in the registry of his old employers. In fact, he had only ever come down here 3 times in his whole career and two of those times were to go somewhere quiet with one of the new typist girls.

Charles noticed that there were electronic gates in and out of the registry now and felt sorry that there would be no departmental hanky panky occurring in this sub-basement. It was renowned around the organisation and an invite to the registry, from a member of the operational team, was highly sort after by the ladies in the typing pool. It was a far more enjoyable way to spend an afternoon for all parties involved.

Charles was snapped from his revery, by a cough from the junior records clerk in front of him.

“Your desk. A torpedo will be along soon with your documents. Buzz here if you need anything.”

Charles sat and took in the desk, small grey melamine covered with a doorbell buzzer and a plastic tube hanging from overhead. Moments later, with a loud SHUNK, a plastic tube ‘torpedo’ fell on his desk from above. His documents had arrived.

the biggest one yet

It was a nice pen. Good weight, the ink flowed well from the nib and the grip had just the right type of tactility. It was quite apt to be used to sign such a serious document, not that anyone else was ever likely to see this highly secret document.

Charles finished signing and passed the folder and pen to his cousin sat next to him. He made a motion with his eyes, knowing that his cousin would understand that this meant he should try and pocket the pen.

The two had quite a collection of purloined items from this war, some from their own side, some from their enemies, all of it worth money. It had become more of a game than anything else, a light hearted side bet on the whole shooting match.

The documents were handed back to the man on the other side of the desk, the two men stood up, saluted and turned on their heels. As they reached the door, the voice of their CO sounded from behind them.

“You can keep the pen gentlemen, if you carry this one off, it is the least I can do for you, you’ll probably deserve it.”