You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 1

Posted: 7 January 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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There were rumours, of course.

There always had been, ever since speech had arrived. In the old days, people just called them stories.

But in every generation, there were tales of one person who was extraordinarily strong, another who was astonishingly fast, a third who healed far faster than anyone else.

But these were only stories.

Flights of fancy, amusing diversions from the day to day mundanity of normality.

However, despite government investigations, a hungry media, amateur though passionate interest, no-one had ever been found to have such astounding abilities that they’d actually qualify as super powers, and no one ever would.


Until now.

Chapter One

The Guardian, 12th August 2003
In our interview with Sir Jack Hayward, the chairman of Wolverhampton Wanderers, page 20, Sport, yesterday, we mistakenly attributed to him the following comment: “Our team was the worst in the First Division and I’m sure it’ll be the worst in the Premier League.” Sir Jack had just declined the offer of a hot drink. What he actually said was “Our tea was the worst in the First Division and I’m sure it’ll be the worst in the Premier League.” Profuse apologies.

All things considered, it hadn’t started out as a bad day. In fact, when everything was taken into account, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that the day had started well for Ian Davies.

Then he had woken up.

The alarm bell had rung loudly. But that was, after all, what it was supposed to do. Davies had rolled over on his side and reached out to turn it off. And then he’d promptly rolled off the bed. It couldn’t altogether be blamed on him, since the bed had only been purchased a couple of weeks earlier and he was constantly forgetting that it was some six inches narrower than its predecessor.

With a heartfelt sigh, a groan, and an impressive litany of swearing, Davies groped for the clock and hit what he intended in his semi-conscious state to be the snooze button. Instead, the clock was pushed from the bedside table and rolled under the bed where it continued to ring, loudly. Davies groaned again, then pushed back the covers and swung his legs over the side of the bed before retrieving the clock and switching it off.

Ah, silence again.

The telephone by his bed rang and he picked up the receiver and listened for a moment, then spoke a couple of short though direct sentences, before replacing the handset. No, he didn’t want to buy double glazing, not at half-past seven in the morning. Did anyone want to buy double glazing at half past seven in the morning? He almost wished he’d asked the cold caller whether he’d ever managed to get a sale that early, but was depressed about the possible answer.

Davies moved a hand over his face and rubbed his eyes, finally becoming fully conscious. He took a brief look around the bedroom and winced. He’d intended to tidy up the room the previous night, but when he’d got home from the regular Monday night get together after work, he simply couldn’t be bothered. Instead, he’d made himself some food, watched some television and crawled into bed around one.

He staggered into the bathroom and opened the shower door. It creaked as he opened it, reminding him that he’d meant to oil the hinges. One more thing in a long list of “meant to dos” that somehow he never quite got around to. He showered then shaved, yelping as the blade caught a particularly bumpy part of his chin, leaving a quarter-inch shallow slice of red. Attaching a piece of toilet paper to it, he paused, looking at himself in the large mirror. What he saw gave him pause for a moment: light brown hair with a couple of strands of grey above his ears, brown eyes so dark they were almost black, and a mouth that had been described by various women as kind, sensitive and almost feminine. He was less pleased at the suspicion that the same women probably used those precise words to describe him.

He got dressed, mentally telling himself off at once again for forgetting to take his work suits to the cleaners and reminding himself that he really should do so. He walked into the main room, too used to the view to be genuinely upset at it, but perturbed enough not to want to think about it for too long. Clutter was how he thought of it, but Davies knew it was the kindest description. The bookshelves were overladen with books, they always had been.

When he’d moved into the place, three years earlier, the books had been tidily arranged, sorted alphabetically by both subject and author. Currently, however, you were as likely to find a book on the Six Wives of Henry The Eighth nestling next to a set of science fiction anthologies as you were to find a book of political cartoons cohabiting with a spy thriller.

The furniture wasn’t much better. One end of the three-seater couch was covered in paper and he could, if he squinted, just about make out a bank statement underneath a pizza menu, which was itself under yesterday’s newspaper.

His cleaner was due in an hour and Davies always felt somewhat guilty, despite paying her to clean the three room apartment, about not tidying up before she arrived. He supposed it was similar to why people always cleaned their teeth before visiting the dentist, or washed their hair before going to the barber.

He breakfasted, not paying too much attention to the news on the radio, and then left for work.

But even if he had heard the news on the radio, it’s unlikely that he would have changed his plans, which was a pity, since his life was about to change in ways that he could never have imagined.

– o –

Two hours earlier, three men had been in a deliberately anonymous dark blue van, opposite a local branch of National Provident Bank, also having no idea that their lives were shortly to change. Well, to be honest, were shortly to end. But then, you can’t really blame them for that. Not many people think, when planning to rob a bank, that they’re going to be consumed in a fireball just as they commence the operation. Hardly any of them in fact.

Charlie Jones, all of twenty-one years of age, was the youngest of the three. He’d been in and out of youth custody for six years, starting with a conviction for petty theft. That may seem harsh – being sent away for petty theft – until you discovered that the court had taken a hundred and seven similar offences into account when sentencing. Today, however, he was on his first big job and he was eager to get on with it. He was still shaking off the effects of the previous night when, unknown to the others in the van, he’d tied one on with his best friend.

They’d started on beers, moved on to spirits and he just about remembered the drink that had turned his brain upside down, shortly followed by his body. Despite the occasional shudder that ran through his frame, he felt the steering wheel with some confidence. He’d tuned this baby well so that it was ready, with just a touch to the pedals, to break the speed limit in seconds.

He turned to his uncle, Samuel Withers, with a grin. “We up for it, Unc?”

Withers turned a cautious eye on his nephew. He’d not wanted to bring his sister’s boy on the job, but two days earlier, his planned getaway driver had been done for driving without due care and attention. Withers had cursed twice at the news, and had then reluctantly turned to other options, knowing that this particular job needed a crew with an icy calmness.

Withers knew from seeing the lad throw cars around a track that when it came down to the actual driving, his nephew could turn his considerable skill with anything on wheels to good advantage. And the boy’s abilities at the wheel would serve them well afterwards, during the time of most danger. As with most bank jobs, that wasn’t inside the bank, it was outside, in the ten minutes after they left the bank, and were tearing away down the streets of London, their nerves hyped, their van weighed down with bags of cash.

He considered his answer carefully, picking his words both to reassure the boy and to take the edge off his obvious excitement. Withers had already tried to ignore the younger man’s eagerness, and had mildly failed. “Not for an hour or so, Charlie boy, you know that. Not until about half an hour before the bank opens, when the first couple of staff arrive.”

“But what do we do until then?” asked Charlie, almost petulantly.

“We wait,” came the calm voice from the third of the men in the van, the voice seeming to float out of the distance. Whereas Withers carried about him the calm assuredness of experience gained from several stretches at Her Majesty’s pleasure, the man sitting in the rear of the van carried his confidence from never having been caught. The huge black man was named Everett by his mother, but was known to his criminal fraternity as Everest, or more accurately, Mount Everest. “We wait. And we consider.” There was a long pause. Then, “We think about the job, and we go over the plan again.”

“OK,” said Charlie, “when the…”

Everest interrupted him. “We go over the plans… silently. As in ‘no noise’.”

Charlie moved around in his seat, looking at the lowered head of the huge man sitting in the near darkness, willing himself not to be intimidated by him.

“Silently,” Mount Everest pre-empted and Charlie Jones didn’t even form the words of protest before Everest raised his head and his eyes nailed Charlie’s. Charlie turned around, suddenly very interested in the dashboard, and desperately trying not to think of the gun that Everest was cleaning.

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

To read part 2 of You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, click here.

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  1. […] introductory post to the book can be found here, and part one can be found here. I really recommend giving it a […]

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