Hello All, its that time of the week again. Here is part seven of After the Revolution. Below is a little refresher of the story so far. Enjoy!
Whilst testing his newly developed time machine, Alex finds himself in the year 2060. London, his home, has been ripped apart by war, and the country is in the grip of Wilson, a ruthless dictator who bullied his way into power during the British revolution that happened in the late 2030's. As he investigates this strange, yet familiar landscape, he is picked up by the POLA, Wilson's secret police and detained as a potential enemy of the state. He is held in a dark cell with Ralph, a young orphan who is trying to survive in war torn streets London. The officers discover that Alex has no identity chip (a necessity for all citizens in 2060) and take him to see Wilson in person, suspecting that he may part of the counter revolution that is planning to end Wilson's rule. Wilson orders that Alex is made an example off, and sends him to the infamous Room Ten, where a man called McCarthy, a man who gets answers, waits for him...
Back in 2010, Alex has returned from his trip to the future, and his wife is left to deal with the silent terrified shell of a man that he has become. Gradually he becomes more edgy as he tries to come to terms with his experience. Slowly his silence and fear turn to anger and resentment as the marriage begins to fall apart. When Annie tells Alex that she is pregnant, everything changes. Alex becomes violent and in the middle of the night creeps into Annie's room to attack her and the baby growing inside of her...
After the Revolution - Part Seven
After the Revolution
As the guards slammed the door to Alex’s cell when the arrived back at the prison, he heard them muttering to each other.
‘…You go and bring the instruments,’ one said to the other, ‘I’ll go and prepare Room Ten.’
Ralph looked up at him and smiled, apparently just awake and glad to see his cellmate return. Alex smiled back as he sat down on the bench opposite.
‘Did they take you to see Wilson?’
‘I saw Wilson once, in a military parade.’ The boy looked down and began to fiddle with his fraying shoelaces. ‘What did he say to you?’
‘Lost of things.’
‘He said that I was a defector…’
The boy looked up at him. ‘Are you?’
‘What do you think?’
‘Well…’ said Ralph, ‘…do you like Wilson?’
Alex laughed, knowing there could only ever be one answer to that question. ‘He held a gun to my face… and pulled the trigger.’
‘So, no, then. That makes you a defector.’
Alex smiled ‘I guess it does.’
After a long period of silence, Alex finally spoke. ‘What’s Room Ten?’
Ralph head snapped up and he looked Alex directly in the eyes, a look of terror washing over his face. ‘R… Room Ten?’
Alex nodded, judging from the boy’s reaction that Room Ten probably wasn’t a very nice place. ‘Yeah… what is it?’
Ralph looked down at his shoes again. ‘They took my father to Room Ten. Every night for two weeks he would return to his cell and cr… he would… he would-’
‘It’s okay, Ralph… if you don’t want to talk about it…’
‘No… no,’ replied the boy. ‘Its okay, I don’t mind.’ A melancholy smile crossed his lips and he looked back up at Alex. ‘They taught us about God and religion and all that stuff back when I went to school. Room Ten is probably the closest place on earth to hell. Wilson keeps a man named McCarthy in there.’
‘He gets answers… when defectors won’t talk… McCarthy makes them.’ The boy looked up at the shafts of light that poured in through the air vent on the door. ‘My father didn’t talk though… he would never have talked. When he came back to the cell, he was bruised… beaten black and blue with his back cut to ribbons; but he never told them a thing.’
The door clicked and slowly creaked open to reveal the two guards standing on the doorway.
‘Right,’ said the tallest one, ‘it’s time for you to meet McCarthy.’
As Alex began to get to his feet, Ralph suddenly shot up and looked at him. ‘They’re taking you to room ten?’ He ran towards the tallest guard and began beating his fist on his chest. ‘No… you can’t… don’t take-’
The guard pushed the boy’s head and sent him crashing in to a pile on the cell floor. Immediately, and without even thinking about it, Alex clenched his fist and swung it in to the guard’s stomach. ‘Don’t you touch him… he’s only a kid!’
The shorter guard grabbed Alex by the neck and restrained his hands as the taller caught his breath. ‘You dumb fuck,’ he said, before slamming his fist into Alex’s stomach, knocking the wind out of him and doubling up. ‘McCarthy’s gonna have some fun with you…’
Ralph cowered in the corner as they dragged his new friend out towards Room Ten, just as they had done all those years ago with his father.
At the end of a dark hallway, in the furthest corner of the prison, beyond the screamers and the prying eyes of the rest of the complex, was Room Ten. Alex put up little resistance as the two guards dragged him up to the door and swung it open, pushing him inside.
‘McCarthy will be here in a minute,’ said one of the guards as they pushed him up against a wall and bound his wrists with leather straps. He whispered ghoulishly into Alex’s ear. ‘…He’s not going to like you one bit.’ The guard ripped Alex’s shirt from his back and threw it to the ground.
Alex saw very little of the room before he was pushed face first into the wall and bound there. From the little he could see, the room looked completely bare aside from the shackles on the wall. The guards had left him now, and he stood with his face pressed against the brick wall, his heart thumping relentlessly in his chest. He stood there for the best part of ten minutes, before he heard the click of a door locking behind him and a voice hissing through the darkness.
‘It may take minutes, it may take days, or may take weeks,’ said the voice, ‘but what you know… you will tell me.’
Alex tried to turn around his head to see the man’s face, but as he did, he felt something lash out of nowhere and cut across his cheek, as he let out a yelp and turned back around, he realised that it was a whip.
‘Face the wall. Do not turn around, do you understand? Do not turn around or you will feel my whip again, is that understood?’
Alex was in too much pain to answer.
‘Is that understood?’ the man repeated himself, and before Alex had a chance to answer, he felt the searing pain of the man’s whip against his back. He fell to his knees, held up only by the shackles around his wrists, and mumbled as best he could through the pain. ‘…y… yes…’
‘I am McCarthy,’ boomed the man, ‘and I will be respected!’
He heard McCarthy beginning to pace behind him; the click, click, click of shoes against linoleum.
‘What do you know about the second revolution?’ pressed McCarthy. ‘Tell me about your leader, Jones…’
‘I don’t know anything about any revolution,’ coughed Alex, trying to find his feet again.
‘I’m not an Idiot, prisoner. Tell me what you know.’
Alex thought very carefully about what to say, but before he even had a chance to reply, he felt the searing pain of McCarthy’s whip lashing his back again. Tears began to stream down his eyes and as he fell to his feet, he thought about home. When he closed his eyes, for the briefest of seconds, he was there. He was there with Annie, back in a world that made sense.
But it wasn’t real, of course. The sharp blow of McCarthy’s whip brought him crashing back into his nightmare.
It seemed like hours they kept him in there. Beating him, trying to get answers to impossible questions… and what could Alex tell them? The truth? What could he tell them?
So McCarthy beat him as he stood in silence until he finally fell unconscious.
For seven days they kept taking him back to room ten; endless hours of mind numbing pain, exhaustion, and interrogation from McCarthy. Each night they would return his battered, wasted body to his cell, where he would lay by Ralph’s side in the darkness and try to imagine a better place. He dreamed of many things; desert islands, and city parks, he thought about the farm he grew up in and pictured himself running through the cornfields in the blistering June sun. All night he would lay there, half conscious, whisking himself away to far flung corners of his imagination, waiting for the morning, and for the whole ugly routine to begin again.
Sometimes Ralph’s voice would creep through the black.
‘Are you okay, mister?’ The boy tried his hardest to conceal the fact that he was crying.
‘You don’t look fine,’ said the boy, sniffing sadly.
‘Yeah?’ replied Alex.
‘Don’t tell them anything.’
On the seventh night, as they were laying in the darkness, Alex began to hear a sound. At first he put it down to his imagination, but as he listened closer, and saw that Ralph’s ears had pricked up too, he discovered that it was very real.
‘Its aeroplanes,’ said the boy. ‘Lots of them.’
Ralph nodded, a knowing look on his face. ‘It’s the Americans. It’s usually the Americans.’
Suddenly Alex heard a deafening roar coming from somewhere outside the prison walls. And then another. And another.
‘It’s an air strike,’ said Ralph.
Alex immediately sat up and listened as his home was destroyed, piece by piece around him.
‘Has this happened before?’
Ralph nodded, shifting closer towards Alex. ‘But never like this.’
The pair began to hear shouting coming from the hallway outside their cell, and the roar of a nearby anti-aircraft gun being fired.
‘They’re close, Alex…’
‘Come closer,’ said Alex, wincing under the pain of his back, but fuelled by a sudden rush of adrenaline, beckoning Ralph to the relative safety of his side.
All around them, the banging was getting louder, bomb after bomb fell and shot after shot was fired, building up to a massive crescendo, until they eventually heard the loudest one of all.
In a mist of flying rubble, Ralph and Alex watched as the wall to their cell was ripped from the ground and tossed into a crater in the prison yard outside.
The air was thick with dust, and Alex held the boy close to his chest, gripping him protectively.
‘You okay, Ralph?’
The boy coughed and tried to wave the dust away from his face. ‘Yeah… I think so. Something hit my arm.’
Alex looked down and saw a long graze along Ralph’s left arm. ‘It’s okay,’ he said comfortingly. ‘You’ll be fine.’
‘Look,’ said Ralph, pointing out through the gaping hole in the cell wall and across the prison yard. ‘We’re free.’ He got up and began to run towards the opening.
‘Stop!’ shouted Alex, grabbing the boy’s shirt and pulling him back. ‘The guards… the watchtowers! We’ll get shot…’
‘This is the perfect opportunity!’ replied Ralph. ‘All of their guns will be pointing towards the sky. If we want to get out of here, then we need to go now.’
Alex looked deep into the boy’s eyes.
‘Do you want to go back to Room Ten, mister?’
Alex looked out across the yard, towards the miserable scraps of potential freedom he had left, and then again at the boy. As he felt the deep wounds on his back from McCarthy’s whip begin to burn, he knew he had already made his decision. He pushed the boy across the threshold and into the crater that had once been a prison yard. They kept their heads low as they crept through the unstable sea of rubble and loose earth towards the toppled perimeter fence.
‘Keep down,’ said Alex, ‘we don’t want to take any chances. As he ushered the thirteen year old boy across the waste, his heart leapt. Freedom. He could see the perimeter, it was only feet away, creeping up over the horizon of the crater.
Out of nowhere, a bullet roared in to the ground next Ralph’s feet, and they heard shouting coming from behind them.
Another bullet roared out, this time even closer than the last. Alex knew that if they could make it to the perimeter, they would be out of sight, so with every tiny bit of strength he had, he forced his legs forward faster. Ralph, who was not hindered by a week of McCarthy’s abuse had already reached the perimeter and was standing behind a tree beckoning his friend forward. ‘Come on Alex!’
As Alex reached the perimeter, he jumped out of the prison’s iron grip, and landed in the soft grass. Another shot rang out into the darkness as Alex pulled himself up and kept running into the trees, with Ralph at his side.
‘We should be safer now,’ said Alex between exhausted pants. ‘We need to find some place to hide in case they come out and look for us.’
They dashed through the thin patch of trees and found themselves running on a street, buildings reduced to rubble all around them. The bombing had grown less now and it seemed like the enemy aeroplanes were preparing to leave. As Alex turned his head to the sky, his foot caught on something and he came crashing down against the concrete pavement. He hit the ground hard, and when he turned and looked up, he saw a man standing over him. Alex had a feeling that he recognised the man.
‘Well well,’ said the man. ‘Alex, isn’t it?’
As Alex looked at the man’s limp hand holding a smouldering cigarette, he saw the long scar on his hand and knew instantly where he recognised him from.
‘And I said names didn’t matter.’
Alex didn’t say anything.
‘Stoltz; we met recently. In a prison van I believe it was.’
He stood, dressed in the same clothes he had been wearing over a week ago when they had first met, holding a hand out to Alex offering him up.
‘You in a hurry?’
‘Come on,’ said Ralph, pulling Alex forward. ‘They’re coming!’
As Alex took Stoltz’s hand and pulled himself off the ground, he heard shouting and gunfire coming from the trees.
‘They looking for you?’ said Stoltz.
‘Come with me. You’re one of us… I know where you can be safe.’
Seeing little other option, Alex and Ralph followed Stoltz down a dark street towards a door, which led down to an old pub cellar.
There they stood in the darkness, waiting for the POLA to pass.
‘We’ll be safe here,’ hissed Stoltz. ‘For now.’
She couldn’t see anything at first. It was all black. Then, gradually, colours began to fade to life and she began to regain consciousness. She was staring at the ceiling of her bedroom, and every inch of her body burned and ached. Had he really tried to kill her? Was she really still alive? Suddenly all of her thoughts turned to the baby growing inside her. Oh God… he’s killed my baby.
With all of her strength, she held her hands up to her stomach, stroking it protectively. It’s going to be okay…
She pulled herself up to a sitting position and reached up on to her dressing table, desperately trying to find her mobile phone. Eventually she felt it slip between her fingers and she pulled it down and held it to her face. She desperately tapped in 999 and held it to her ear, unsure if she even had enough strength to complete the call.
She heard a click as the operator answered.
‘Hello, what service to you require?’
‘I… need an ambulance.’