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Thursday 25 February 2021

The Day After


    It happened the day after, the day after what? You might well ask. It had been a day just like any other day, no-one was expecting what happened to happen. Citizens going about their daily business, shopping at the General Store, promenading in the Piazza, or messing about in the swimming pool. Sunbathing on the beach, people relaxing as they sat in deckchairs listening to the brass band concert. And the administration going about its business in the Town Hall, a meeting of the welfare committee, a meeting of the  purposes committee maybe. But whatever the administrative machine kept on, just as surveillance work carried on in the Control room, except the supervisor-No.28, he had been promoted to an interim No.2 but just for one week which saw his assistant, No.60, temporarily to the position of supervisor in 28’s absence. But something didn’t feel right, nothing you could put a finger on, but something was instinctively wrong. Although at the time we didn’t know how wrong, not even when we couldn’t contact No.2 in his office. It wasn’t until the order to evacuate was given, then it seemed to be everyman for himself!
    A voice came over the public address system “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate!” the voice ordered.
   People started running in panic, I don’t know where they thought they were running to, or how they were going to be evacuated and to where. The Alouette helicopter took off, followed by a number of other helicopters, perhaps the people were running to try and get onboard one of those. But it was all in vain as there were not enough helicopters to evacuate everyone. I don’t know what security was up to racing through the village in a Mini-Moke with a siren blarring out, but it was much too late to perform trying to keep orderly evacuation, they certainly didn’t stop to help anyone. Perhaps they were simply getting away themselves. People were running this way and that, each man for himself. I was among those citizens who ran away from the village along the beach to where, to where…….and then came a deep rumbling noise, and we all stopped and looked back towards the village to see a large mass of flames, we all dropped to the ground as a rocket blasted off, rising high in the sky……
    We spent the night on the beach, some of use collected drift wood and we lit a fire, partly to keep warm as well as to act as a beacon. We thought M. S. Polotska might still be somewhere out here, but no, or at least if she were the crew failed to notice the beacon.
   Dawn broke into a fine day, there were a dozen of us, eight men and four women, and each one of us was hungry, and the only food was back in the village. A few of us were all for striking out on foot, but as it was pointed out without food and water none of them would actually get very far. If we all returned to the village, find something to eat and drink then they could decide what action to take. So we did, was walked back along the beach towards the village, because at the very least the village would provide sanctuary.
    The village was deserted, save for our group of survivors. We went into one of the larger cottages, there was still electricity so breakfast was made from the provisions in the kitchen, and after a hot meal we all began to feel better. Yet uneasy about what we should do next. We decided to remain in the village, for the time being at least. None of us knew where the village was, but thought we should make another beacon which we did. We took furniture from a cottage near to the bell tower, and having taken the wood up to the top we piled it all up and set light to it, and it was agreed that two of us should man the bell tower and keep the beacon alight through the night. No-one came, no-one was attracted by our beacon of flame, and the village which had been our prison for so many years was now our only refuge. We had food, water, the power was still on, and we made ourselves comfortable back in our cottages. Then one afternoon…………. There came a terrible scream, we all heard it, and found one of our number dead, she had been suffocated. We never dared think, not for a minute that the village had been evacuated and the Guardian left activated! We split up in small groups and thought as long as we remained in our cottages we would be fine. But then the idea came that perhaps we go to the Green Dome that it might be possible to deactivate the Guardian from there.
    First in the morning two of us made our way through the village towards the Green Dome, keeping a sharp look out. All was peaceful; the only sound was bird song. We reached the bottom of the steps leading up to the Green dome, and we made our way up. The front door we found open, we went into the foyer, the pair of French doors were also open, we walked through to be faced with the pair of blast proof steel doors, they remained closed. Marcus said he saw a gardener’s wheel barrow with tools in it, he said he’d go and find something we could force the doors open with. So I waited, I waited and then I decided to look for Marcus……I found him dead. There was no sign of the guardian, so I took a spade from the wheel barrow, I was determined to break into what had been No.2’s office and find a way to deactivate the Guardian.
    I ran up the steps, through the foyer, and faced with the pair of steel doors I forced the blade of the spade between the two doors to try and wedge them apart. The overhead lighting was still on, I approached the desk, the black global chair had its back turned towards me. Studying the control panel I failed to notice the chair begin to turn, it was the roar, the blood curdling roar that echoed and re-echoed around the chamber, sat in the chair was the white membranic mass of the Guardian. It was pulsating, it quivered and it shrank in size a little, just enough to free itself from the chair. In desperation I pressed a number of buttons and suddenly the dais upon which the chair sat dropped through the floor taking the chair, and the Guardian with it. I turned and ran, the doors still wedged open by the spade which I pulled away, the doors closed with a resounding clang.     
    Returning to my fellow citizens I told them of my encounter, it was not to be the last. The next day we discussed about building a boat, but to drag it all the way to the mouth of the estuary seemed too much. Had we a taxi it would have been easier. One of us suggested that we build a boat, then wait for the tide to return. However unbeknown to us time was already running out! It was one of the women who sounded the alarm……..
    “Guardians” she said “Coming along the beach towards the village.
    We rushed in a body to the outlook on the cliffs, and to our dismay there, rolling and bounding towards the village were a number of large white spheres. I counted at least twelve. We looked at each other fear written across our faces. What to do? We decided to return to one of the cottages and barricade ourselves in. But it was only a question of time……… Although the cottage was secure, and the fact that it had no chimney, you know how it’s possible for a spider to get into something through even the tightest gap, well that’s how it was with the Guardian, and once they were in they attained their full size, or there abouts. The screaming started in the night, three of us were dead within moments of their getting in, others quickly followed. We fought as best we could fending these balloon like creatures with chairs, anything. No.32 attacked one with a knife slashing the membrane which instantly sealed itself. She was backed into a kitchen corner, she dropped the steak knife as the membrane covered her face. The other girl snatched up the knife and buried it up to the hilt in the thing’s membrane, which then absorbed both knife and hand, then wrist, arm and eventually the entire body of the girl. The membrane of the Guardian took on a pinkish hue as it digested the body inside it had absorbed.

    I am the only one of my kind left in the village, as I write this account within the confines of the lighthouse set on the cliff. I managed to escape the village by dodging from cottage to cottage and only covering open ground when there were no Guardians to be seen. Eventually I made it to the other side of the village and into the woods, through which I ran from tree to tree, and using the undergrowth for cover until emerging out on the path on top of the cliffs. Having made it to the lighthouse, my first task was to gather some dry twigs, and brushwood. Then I managed to secure the doorway and window, there is a cave below, and the bell chamber above, but I was confident they couldn’t get in. I built a cone out of the twigs and brushwood, and using two of my four matches I now have a fire, wishing to save the batteries of my torch, although the smoke is a little irritating. I have a little food, and a canteen of water which I managed to bring with me.

    The fire died a few minutes ago, and I have no more material with which to make another. So now I sit here in the light of my torch. I can hear the mass of Guardians outside, their constant roaring filling my ears, and playing on my nerves, there is no rest from it. I finished the tin of corned beef, but I do have a little bread and water left. So far they have been unable to get in, but equally I am unable to get out. I hear them at the doorway trying to get in.

   Today I have eaten my last piece of bread washed down with the last of my water, and the batteries of my torch give off a dim light, it cannot last much longer. I listen at my barricade which began to creak and strain, it must be feared that outside the Guardians are exerting pressure against it. Suddenly the torchlight gave out leaving me in the darkness. I heard the final creaking of my barricade as it finally gave way…………

   {This is dedicated to my good friend Pat Powers, who is probably Rover’s greatest fan}

Be seeing you

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