You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 28

Posted: 13 February 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Fourteen (Continued…)

“Doctor Clooney? Gentlemen? The Prime Minister will see you now.”

They got up as a group and followed the man through another corridor, Docherty’s Head of Section taking the lead. They arrived at a set of double doors and the man who had fetched the group knocked twice. He waited a moment and then opened the doors and led them into a room that had a large oval table in it. Docherty caught his breath. The Cabinet Room.

The Prime Minister was seated half way down the table and stood to welcome them. “Thank you all for coming. Please, sit down.”

They all took seats apart from Davies, who remained standing. The PM looked at Davies and asked him again to take his seat.

Davies looked at the Prime Minister and spoke. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather stand.”

The Prime Minister smiled gently at the comment. “It is indeed all the same to me, Mr Davies, but not, I’m afraid, to my security people. I’m sorry, but I really do have to ask again. Please sit down.” There was a touch of steel in the voice now.

Davies shrugged, took a seat and then reversed it, straddling the seat with his hands resting on the back of the chair. Docherty and Williams both winced, then grinned at each other.

The Prime Minister spoke briefly, confirming that he’d been briefed on the outline of the plan about to be presented. “However,” he said, “I’ve yet to be convinced of its merits. So, gentlemen,” he said to the agency directors, “convince me.”

Williams and Monkton had agreed, over Patt’s objections, to brief without any visual aids. “This has to be on your feet stuff,” Williams had insisted, and then, hunting around for a suitable phrase to swing the day, he had said to Monkton, “The only visual aid we need is Davies.” Monkton had seized on that and Patt had reluctantly acquiesced.

Monkton stood and addressed the room. “Prime Minister, after a chat we had with Ian,” a brief nod in Davies’ direction, “we agreed with him that he had four basic problems to address. In no particular order, they are: complete loss of personal identity, his personal future, his personal credibility, and the future effects of his powers on himself and others. I think we’re in agreement on that.”

The Prime Minister raised his head. “I think there’s a fifth problem, but we’ll get to that afterwards.”

The other people in the room shot looks of concern at each other, but Monkton continued as if the PM hadn’t spoken. “Every scenario we modelled which doesn’t involve the government and yet still remains legal only solves three of the four problems. It’s a different one that’s left out each time, but we can only solve three. We believe, however, that there is a solution in which both the State is secure, while answering all four concerns. But it requires government co-operation.”

The Prime Minister looked curious, and only realised when Monkton stopped talking that he was expected to comment. He gestured for Monkton to continue. Instead, he sat and Williams rose. “Sir, our unanimous view is that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue. Under no circumstances can Ian be allowed to possess, without control of any sort, powers that he neither understands nor knows how they will develop.”

Davies reacted with a start. This wasn’t what they’d discussed; he didn’t know that this part of the briefing had been deliberately kept from him. He stood up. “No way am I being controlled by anyone,” he said, and started walking towards the door.

“Ian,” said Williams quietly, “how long have we worked together?”

Davies stopped and turned to Williams. “About three years, why?”

“Have you ever known me to lie to you? Not to tell lies, but to lie to you?”

Davies thought for a moment. “No.”

“Then sit down and listen to me, please,” stated Williams. This was the dangerous bit, he’d always known. Curious, Davies took his seat again.

“Therefore,” Williams resumed, “given that and Ian’s reluctance either to be controlled or to be answerable to the government, and wrapping in the fact that Ian needs money and a personal life, while being able to act in public without his powers going out of control, there’s only one thing that works.”

Docherty noticed the other two partners nodding in agreement, as well as his Head of Section and Clooney. Williams continued, “The government must cover Ian’s expenses, look after his health, create and protect a new identity for him, train him in the use of his powers and yet have no say whatsoever in how he uses them.”

There was a brief moment of silence, before the Prime Minister laughed out loud. “All right, nice one,” he said, “and what’s the real plan?” Everyone in the room except for Davies looked at the Prime Minister without so much as a smile on any of their faces and the truth slowly sunk in.

The Prime Minister opened his mouth and then closed it. And then he repeated the exercise. And then, for good measure, he did it again. When he finally found his voice, he spoke relatively calmly and reasonably given the situation. “Are you all stark staring mad?” he asked.

“No, we’re not,” said Clooney, speaking for the first time. “Look, Prime Minister…” That was as far as she got before the Prime Minister spoke to Davies directly.

“What do you have to say about this?” he asked.

Davies considered his answer carefully. “I know what the fifth problem is,” he said in reply. The Prime Minister didn’t look surprised. Davies spoke slowly. “The fifth problem is how do I convince you and your successors that I’m not about to take over the country the next time a government policy or a minister pisses me off?”

“Exactly,” said the Prime Minister, exceedingly pleased that he’d not had to say it, less pleased at Davies’ mention of his successors.

“I can’t,” said Davies, “except to ask that you look at my record since I gained these powers. OK, I’ve only had them a few days, but… Do I agree with your government’s policies? No, not entirely. But then I’ve never agreed with any government’s entire raft of policies since I became an adult. All I can say,” he said to the Prime Minister, slowly, dropping the other shoe, “is that if I did want to interfere, I truly believe that there’s very little you or anyone else could do to stop me.”

“And that being the case,” said the PM, “why not assist you in the meantime?” He ran his fingers through his thinning hair. “Yes, well you have a point.” He looked at Williams, who was still standing, “OK, Mr Williams, convince me.”

And Williams started outlining the plan.

– o –

It’s reckoned that in the public relations industry, the average length of employment is a shade under three years. Given that, and the publicity he’d gained, no one was particularly surprised when Ian Davies resigned from the job he’d loved for the past few years, and the email he sent around the company expressed his gratitude to everyone for their best wishes and promised that he’d keep in touch.

However, emails sent to the address he’d left with them bounced back as undeliverable and calls to his telephone only got a “number unobtainable” signal.

The directors of Doncaster and Monkton made all the right sounds publicly about losing Davies but, as previously mentioned, it wasn’t a huge surprise to anyone inside or outside the firm. What did astonish many, however, was Lester Williams’ announcement a few weeks later that due to health reasons, he was semi-retiring, and would only be in the office a couple of days a week, and even then it was ‘understood’ that he was just ‘keeping himself busy’. People immediately talked about what a loss he’d be, then gossiped about what disease he had.

At around the same time, Doctor Rosemary Clooney resigned from Dance-Oliver Medical Research (to the intense delight of Mark Toster) and took up a post she described to friends and family as “something incredibly boring working for the Department of the Environment, but paying shitloads”.

And despite no new public sightings of the “Public” Defender, police officers in London were becoming used to finding criminals who’d been stopped in their tracks, while committing muggings, bank jobs, rapes and drug sales, by “this bloke dressed all in black.”

– o –

Philip Samuels, The Chief Political Correspondent of the BBC, was irritated beyond measure. It was understandable. He regarded his time as valuable and not to be wasted. He’d been called into the office on his day off, and his wife had given him hell over it. What irritated him even more was that he’d been required to come in to attend a meeting about office reallocations.

He walked into the reception office of the Head of News trying to control his temper. “I swear,” he told his wife before leaving, “if he still has those damn fish in that tank in his office, I’m going to have sushi for dinner.”

Samuels knocked on his boss’s office door, opened it without waiting for a “come in” and stopped dead in his tracks. The Head of News was talking to a man standing in the middle of the room, dressed completely in black. Well, not standing; floating would have been a more appropriate description. Samuels recognised him at once.

Ian Davies moved smoothly towards him, dropping in height all the time. He touched the carpet directly ahead of Samuels and extended his hand. “Hello, Mr Samuels. Want to interview me?” Samuels smiled wanly at him, his head already filled with the questions he wanted to ask.

– o –

Gathered around a television that night in an office in Central London, four people watched anxiously as the interview on the specially extended ten o’clock news began. As it progressed, Clooney squeezed Docherty’s hand gently. He leaned over and kissed her.

Yes,” came Davies’ voice from the television, “for obvious reasons, I abandoned the secret identity idea.” There was a sympathetic laugh from one of the camera crew which quickly died out.

“It’s working,” she said. “The camera loves him.”

“Quiet,” Williams said, from the other side of the desk, his pen scratching notes in the pad he was leaning on. Not bad, he thought, not bad at all. We’ll have to explain that answer, but he got away with that and that.

No,” said the slightly distorted version of Davies’ voice, “I have no idea where my powers came from; one day they were suddenly just there.”

There was a sound from behind them and the three of them glanced at the open window, the net curtains flapping in the wind.

Docherty looked at the others. “Well, he said he might not want to hang around.”

Clooney smiled and turned back to the television, squeezing Docherty’s hand again, thinking of the lab that had been set up for her to run, and how Davies’s powers had blown seven sets of measuring equipment in the first week. They were waiting for new equipment to arrive.

There was a beep from the computer terminal and Docherty said “leave it until the interview’s over.”

Clooney let go of Docherty and walked around to her terminal, scanning the email. “It’s that fellow at the Depot.” She scanned the email and gasped. “He asking whether or not we want to know about the other super-human that was created by something from Roswell?”

Docherty and Williams gaped at her as Davies continued the interview with “I suppose, yes, I am the first super powered human, although I’d quibble with the term super-hero…”

– o –

Half way across the city, and eleven hundred feet up, Ian Davies hovered above London. He opened his senses just slightly and heard a scream suddenly cut off. His eyes seemed to know where to look and his brow furrowed slightly as the scene a fifth of a mile away snapped into sharp focus.

Not your day, my friend, he thought as he saw another mugging taking place. He took a deep breath, let it out slowly and then aimed himself at the scene, gathering speed as he went.

You know, he thought, I could get to like this…

THE END

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013


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