You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 22

Posted: 5 February 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Eleven (continued…)

Underneath Downing Street, the soldier moved away from the door as Sir Anthony Bowman walked into the room. “Mr Docherty, Doctor Clooney? If you’d come with me please?” he asked, and turned without waiting for their reply.

Docherty and Clooney stood up and followed him. Clooney was tired, as well as thinking that she needed a shower, and was pleased at the thought of leaving Downing Street. She realised her mistake when Bowman took a left turn and led them back into COBRA. She took a deep breath as she entered the room and at Bowman’s direction, she sat at the table again, Docherty sliding into place beside her.

Where previously, the atmosphere and appearance of the room had been businesslike, there was now an air of barely restrained tension in the room. It seemed faintly familiar, and Clooney tried to place it, before with a small start she recognised it as the same feeling in a lab when a team absolutely knew that an experiment had just suffered a catastrophic failure. She could see the military people sketching out some plans on paper, while others around the room looked expectantly towards the head of table.

The Prime Minister was in discussion with his fellow politicians, Bowman and some army personnel. The PM raised his voice, partly in anger, partly in order that Bowman would be left in no doubt as to his feelings.

“Is this confirmed?” he asked. Bowman said something too quietly for Clooney to eavesdrop and the Prime Minister said with some force, “Don’t tell me what you don’t know, man – tell me what you do know.”

He stood up and looked at them all. “As I understand it, there’s no way to trace either of these people, and as a result, the considered opinion of this committee is that we start looking for them? Brilliant,” he exclaimed, sarcasm dripping from each word. “This is amateur work, people.” As he was winding up to further excoriate them, a door opened and a young woman appeared. She was accompanied by a soldier, his hand placed just above her shoulder. The picture was one of complete readiness.

The Prime Minister turned and saw the newcomers. “Yes?” he asked, barely containing his impatience.

“Prime Minister,” the young woman said, “I have a message for Lady Constance.” He nodded in her direction and turned back towards the papers he’d been studying.

The woman who was the head of the intelligence services rose, walked across to the younger woman and took a piece of paper from her. She quickly read the message and then thanked the woman who then left the room. She walked slowly to the Prime Minister, her face betraying the irritation she felt at whatever she’d read.

“Prime Mister, members of the Committee. I now believe that we have identified the whereabouts of Withers.”

“Excellent news,” said the PM. “I take it that’s a note from your section.” He looked at the Americans. This’ll show them how it’s done, he thought.

Lady Constance blushed. “Not exactly, Prime Minister; this comes from the television news.”

Docherty grabbed Clooney’s hand and squeezed hard. The moment Lady Constance had told the Prime Minister from where she’d received the news, he’d seen Clooney’s mouth clench tight and he knew she was about to laugh. Despite it being a more than understandable reaction, it wouldn’t exactly do Clooney any favours. Not in this room.

The Prime Minister closed his eyes for a moment, and when he opened them, his face was a combination of relief and despair. No one at all doubted that he and Lady Constance would be having words later, quite loud ones at that.

A second later, the television which had recently been used to show Clooney’s DVD was switched to a news channel and the members of Blue Committee watched the report in silence. The most senior police officer present rose to his feet. “With your permission, Prime Minister?”

The PM didn’t even take his eyes off the screen. “Go,” he said, and the rest of the committee watched, for possibly the first time in their lives, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service running at a sprint.

The television channel continued to report the same news and, unbelievably, after thirty minutes, Clooney began to notice that the members of the Committee were getting frustrated at the lack of new information.

And then something happened. Something that took any such frustration and tedium, bounced it on the ground a couple of times and smacked it over the net to score an ace. On the television, the view switched to that of an outside camera and as the Committee members watched, they saw the scene shift, and the camera pan up, pausing for a moment, as if to admire the night sky. And then it seemed as if the camera was attempting to focus on what appeared to Clooney to be a dark smudge on the screen, possibly a bird or a light aircraft.

The smudge grew and then the image on the screen became more distinct; she caught her breath as she realised what it was, who it was, who it could only be.

Despite not wanting to look away, she allowed herself a brief glance around the room and for a split second caught the eye of the Air Chief Marshall. As what they could see became clearer, he nodded, once, in acknowledgement and acceptance, and then returned his eyes to the screen, where Ian Davies flew out of the sky, and landed gently in front of the hospital.

With one exception, no one noticed as Docherty rose and left the room.

– o –

Deep in the creature’s mind, something stirred. Even if it had been able to talk, it wouldn’t have been able to explain the sharp pangs of hunger that now permeated its every pore.

It moved.

Slowly at first, but it moved. And scared the crap out of the doctors around it who had, in the previous hour, almost got used to its stillness and statuary like appearance. But it didn’t kill anyone. It didn’t even injure anyone, except the junior doctor who happened to be directly in its path when it first moved and who was crushed against the wall. But that was pure accident, and it’s probably not fair to blame it for that one.

The wall separating the accident and emergency room from the rest of the hospital lasted longer than anyone expected when the creature attempted to walk through it. About a third of a second longer, then the thing increased pressure and passed through the resulting debris.

It barely remembered the name for where it believed its hunger would be satisfied as ‘outside’ although it dimly registered the reduction in temperature as it left the reception area for the cold night air.

Facing it, dressed in a black shirt, black trousers and a very, very dark grey, ok black, jacket was Ian Davies, who took a long look at what used to be Samuel Withers and said what later, and with hindsight, he still regarded as the only appropriate thing to say: “Oh fuck.”

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

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