You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 20

Posted: 1 February 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Ten (continued…)

Monkton and Williams looked at each other. Of course, Davies was right. No-one would ever take them seriously again with Davies as an employee. It was partly for that reason that Monkton had offered their services as representatives. As an employee, it was hopeless. As a client? The possibilities were almost endless.

Davies didn’t wait for an answer, and made his last point. “Fourthly. As far as I know, and I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, I’m this planet’s first real super powered human. And yet I don’t know really how I got my powers, nor what their affect upon me or others is going to be.” The directors weren’t surprised when the words “4. Effects of Powers” appeared on the flipchart.

Patt couldn’t help himself. He interjected with “or others?”

Davies turned to him. “Of course ‘or others’. I’ve no idea whether or not anyone else can be affected just be standing near me, for example. I doubt there are any effects, simply because if there were, I think we’d know about them by now. After all,” he said, looking directly at Patt, “I spent a day working here before there were any big effects on me, and I was working with other people during that time…”

Patt suddenly looked even paler.

“But,” Davies said, “what my main point on number four is… it’s that I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. In the space of thirty-six hours, I’ve gone from having the odd scar or shaving cut heal up, my body healing itself from a bullet wound, to being able to move small things with my mind, to being able to fly to… well…” He looked at the three of them and they were lifted out of their chairs before being gently put down in them again.

Monkton looked at his watch, and stood up. “OK, Ian – let me suggest this much. You’re in a spot of bother.”

Davies laughed, a harsh sound.

“Ian, you asked us to let you finish…” Davies smiled and nodded, so Monkton continued. “Can I suggest you let us think on this for the day and then come back tomorrow? After work, I think would be best. Say seven o’clock?”

Davies nodded again. Twenty four hours wouldn’t make a lot of difference, he thought.

“Where are you staying tonight?” Williams asked.

“Do you know, that hadn’t even occurred to me,” said Davies, truthfully. “I can’t go home and any friends’ places are out for obvious reasons.”

Williams’ next words surprised him. Williams pulled out a set of keys, detached two and tossed them to Davies. “Stay at my London flat. I can stay with Peter tonight. That ok, Peter? You can relax, Ian, and take it easy for the night.”

Monkton, who had a large town house, nodded his agreement to the arrangement, thinking that it was a superb idea. At least they’d know where he was and could get hold of him. But Williams had already thought of that. “And do yourself a favour – take the phones out of the sockets and turn your mobile off.”

“I left the mobile at the hospital,” Davies said, remembering now where he’d left it, “and it was broken, anyway”.

“There’s food in the fridge, but there’s an all night place about ten minutes walk away, in case you want anything else,” Williams added, writing down the address and directions to the shop. He handed the paper to Davies, together with five twenty pound notes. “By the way,” he asked, “out of pure curiosity, when was the last time you shaved?”

“Erm, the day before yesterday, just before I came to work, why, do I look rough?” Davies asked, going to rub his chin.

“No, that’s just the point. You look like you shaved five minutes ago.”

Davies realised it was true. His chin and face were completely smooth.

“Oh, and one more thing,” Williams said, “it looks like everyone else has left. So you can use the door on the way out, ok?”

Davies nodded again, then grinned and raised an eyebrow as he noticed the flipchart. “So,” he said, “whatever else has happened, my handwriting hasn’t improved.”

He laughed, a short bitter laugh. And then he was gone.

– o –

PC Marcus Gold heard screaming and it was a full ten seconds before it hit him that the reason the screams sounded so familiar was because they were emanating from his own throat. In that short time, he had managed to run from the carnage that he’d seen in the basement and he fumbled for the radio, screaming for backup. He knew he’d been a fool: it had been exceedingly stupid to have come down here without anyone accompanying him. If nothing else, he thought, they could have verified what would undoubtedly sound like the ravings of a diseased mind that had taken a left while reality had taken a sharp right.

Such a reaction would have been perfectly understandable, he realised. What he had witnessed in the room was nothing that anyone should encounter and expect to remain unchanged. He was constantly trying not to throw up at the mental image that wouldn’t leave his brain, and he was incredibly grateful when the radio bleeped twice and his sergeant called for him to answer.

It was when he heard the tearing sound of metal being shredded as he was attempting to answer the call that he realised his penultimate mistake: he’d assumed that the ‘thing’ hadn’t followed him. He’d ducked out through a door that led to an abandoned operating theatre and had then hidden behind a large cabinet before running for the open elevator. Once the doors had shut, he thought he’d been safe, which was part of his final error of judgement: he’d led the creature to a way out of the basement.

In his final thoughts, he begged forgiveness for the hell on earth he would be responsible for letting loose when the elevator would shortly open its doors into the accident and emergency room.

Two minutes later, rarely had such a description of a hospital area been so appropriate.

– o –

There was complete silence in the large briefing room as Clooney froze the image from the DVD on the screen. It was interrupted by the release of several sharp intakes of breath, including that of the Prime Minister.

Docherty who had seen the video sequence before was still shaken. The Prime Minister, having watched it once, had asked to see it again, immediately. And, after that, a third time. Docherty admired the man’s fortitude. Once had been enough for him.

“How could…?” The Prime Minister stopped, wiped his forehead from the beads of sweat that had appeared and shook his head. “How could they…?”

Clooney stood and answered. “If what you’re asking, Prime Minister, is ‘how could they do that?’ The answer is I don’t know. And more than that, I don’t know if there is an answer that is scientifically valid. The rats were dead. There’s no question of that. Their life signs had terminated.”

From across the room, a voice quietly said “they were ex-rats, they had ceased to be,” and unbelievably, there was a shocking and shocked burst of laughter from some of those present. Not from the PM though, who sent the speaker a look that could have curdled milk at twenty paces. “Thank you, Bernard.” The man who’d spoken coloured and dropped his eyes.

All eyes stared at the image and all thoughts were of the frightful violence that had presaged it. What was left of one rat looked directly at the camera with its sole remaining eye, as if it knew the camera was there. What was left of the other two rats was not in any state to even move, let alone stare at anything.

“Bloody hell,” said the Chief of Staff of the British Armed Forces, neatly summing up the view of the room. He’d served in Northern Ireland at the most violent time of the Troubles, and also Afghanistan, and had seen the results of car bombs and terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, he’d never been shaken like he had been over the previous fifteen minutes.

“And as well as that,” he pointed at the screen, “you’re saying that we have a human being with powers that compare to a comic book super-hero…”

“Or super-villain?” added the Leader of the Opposition.

“Well, yes…” Clooney said. She didn’t think there was a lot to add to that, but in a day filled with surprises, there was one more coming.

“Doctor Clooney?” asked one of the Americans.

“Yes,” she replied, not being able to remember whether this was the CIA man or the other one. His next question told her the answer: it was the other one, the “sometime colleague” scientist.

“Can you tell us please the exact parameters of the experiments your team performed on these rodents?”

“Certainly,” she said. “We subjected the rats to an exposure of the material. They died. Next?”

“My apologies,” the American said, clearly not apologising in the least, “if I could prevail upon you for the exact,” he stressed the word, “parameters.”

Clooney looked around the room, making a quick estimation. “With due respect, sir, you, Sir Anthony and maybe three or four others in this room might understand the implications of the question you’ve asked, but I’m pretty certain that only those people would understand the answer.” He smiled in polite acknowledgement of, and more than polite agreement with, her comment.

Clooney opened her folder and removed a set of stapled papers. She glanced quickly at them, then tossed them across the table to him, and he nodded in acknowledgement as he read them in silence, apart from a brief “These are accurate?” addressed to Clooney about half-way through his reading and a “Holy Christ!” towards the end.

After he’d finished reading, he said to the room, “We have a Condition Blue,” at which everyone in the room except Docherty, his Head of Section and Clooney reacted. The first two didn’t react because they had been trained far too well for that; the latter didn’t react because she had no clue what that term meant.

Docherty looked at his boss and took the hint from the sharp jerk of his head towards the door. “If you’ll excuse us, Prime Minister, committee members,” he said, and whispered to Clooney, “On your feet, Rosemary.” They left the room and went into a small ante-room. Clooney noticed that the door to the room was immediately darkened by the presence of a large soldier.

“What’s going on in there now?” she asked.

“Now?” Docherty repeated, wishing desperately for a cigarette. “Now they’re discussing what to do. And how many.”

“What to do?” she asked.

“Yes, what to do,” he replied, and she knew that he wouldn’t say any more in answer.

“Well, what do you mean, ‘and how many’?” she asked, trying another tack.

“Well, if you are right about there being both a super-human and the human equivalent of those rats out there, and I think you are,” he responded carefully, “then what they’re considering is how many people are going to die before this is all over…”

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

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