A sense of purpose.
It is one of those uniquely human qualities that defines us. It is not something driven by instinct but an attribute that is driven by
choice or sometimes, the lack of. To strive for that goal that you have the luxury of setting for yourself or have it forced upon you.
So in my view, choice is linked to that. I expect we have all made choices that can be considered good or bad, to what degree is all
down to the individual of course. I have made some in my life, I would call some good and some bad but I'm not one for navel-gazing
much or cataloguing my mistakes to be honest.
One can wonder about others though, what choices did they make or were forced to make, to find themselves in any given circumstance.
I did wonder this, along with other things as the Army Air Corps Chinook heavy lift helicopter shot by the Island at what must have
been its near top speed and less than 50 feet from the river surface.
I was having a quiet moment in thought the morning of the day after coming back from the visit to SAS HQ in London. Sitting on the south
facing bank of Eel Pie Island, with my ever present furry friend having a sniff about, she was the first to alert me that things were not all
calm. All this time I had never heard her bark, but she gave a single yap this morning and looked west. I followed her gaze but could not
see the source of her sudden interest.
Then the sound got to a level I could detect. That low base rapid throbbing sound. Some heavy rotors cutting air with a vengeance and only
just masking the high pitch whine of jet turbines. I saw it as the aircraft as it rounded the river bend, between Richmond Park on the south
bank and Radnor Gardens on the north. It was definitely heading towards London and in a hurry. I could only imagine that the pilot had the
collective up around his or her ears and throttles to the stops to get that turn of speed.
The tandem rotors were spinning with a will, the cigar shaped fuselage with its front to back side pods in a slight nose down attitude.
I knew the cruising speed was about 150 mph; this was doing somewhat in excess of that. There was more than enough water surface
disturbance to show the power of the rotors down draught.
Molly was looking at the craft and back to me, her tail almost matching the speed of the Chinooks rotors. After the thankfully brief
encounter on Westminster Bridge with the loud gentleman, I thought discretion was the order of the day and moved back toward the tree
line taking the furry one as I went.
It passed the Island at speed; whoever was in the driving seat of the craft knew their stuff. It was certainly Army Air Corps and had a
manned machine gun on the open rear loading ramp. I couldn't be sure, but the person manning that had a red beret. I was fairly sure about
the bullet damage down the side of the fuselage though. They had been in the wars but unless the un-dead had suddenly mastered ground
to air weapons, unlikely I hoped, then something was definitely amiss. The Chinook was soon out of sight and sticking to the course of
the river like it was on rails.
Max's voice sounded behind me. "What was that?!"
"Good question." Was my only response.
Reg and Martha had also come out, and I told everyone of what I saw. I wish I had answers to their questions but was sadly out of those.
Something was certainly going on; I wish to God I knew what it was. I could have theorised until the next ice age but that was futile.
About 5 minutes later, the sound of automatic weapons fire came echoing across the landscape, heavy calibre too. I asked Max if she had
any binoculars or the like and mentally kicked myself for not picking up some before now. She said she had and ran to the house.
Returning only a few moments later with a large, rather old looking pair but in mint condition. I thanked her, noticed the white engraved
'Carl Zeiss, Jena Dekarem 10 X 50' marking on the black metal case parts then lifted them to my eyes and turned the focus wheel.
Damn, these were a good pair of binoculars! I looked toward London and with a bit of steadying, I saw what I think was the shape of an
American designed Blackhawk helicopter moving at speed north toward the center of the city.
More of the gunfire reports echoed toward us.
Then nothing, we waited for a good 5 minutes but nothing more sounded from the city. This was making my mind race a bit and I craved
answers if for no other reason than to pass those on to the questioning faces of those gathered on the Island. They were looking to me
for some reason and I hated having nothing concrete to say to them. I felt like I owed these decent people something.
"I wish I knew folks, seriously. I somehow expect we will find out soon enough."
That was all I could say to them and felt it woefully inadequate. Little did I know at that time, the answers were coming and I wasn't going
to like them.
Not one damn bit!
Reg had one of the radios almost glued to him for the rest of the morning, checking through the frequencies. It kept him occupied and the
possibility of hearing anything was remote to my mind but it gave me an idea.
"Reg, you any good with radios mate?"
He seemed to consider his answer for a few seconds then told me he had a definite interest and was fairly up with most radio systems and
how to use them. He added that it was from a hobby perspective as he'd dabbled in the old Citizens Band stuff in the late 1980's and
the more advanced stuff like Ham Radio operation a few years back but had changed to a new hobby. I didn't ask what but continued.
"Excellent! Reg fella, I got an idea..."
A plan had formed in my mind, and I talked this over with the others to give everyone a bit of, I felt badly needed, focus.
First up was to secure and clear the island to give us all a bit more security and room. Next up, Reg and I would make a trip to
Hounslow Barracks; I told them it was a Cavalry Regiment place and as such should have radios and shiny kit a plenty. At least then we
could get an idea on what may be happening outside of our own little patch.
That would keep us busy for a while I thought and everyone seemed up for it. I made it clear that everyone, for their own safety would
have to learn how to use the weapons we had in our stash. Suffice to say that didn't sit well with everyone.
Martha is a doctor, a healer and had taken an oath to do no harm, plain and simple. That I could appreciate but it didn't alter the
circumstances and the new reality we were living in. Granted I was a bit of a late comer to how things are, but it didn't change how things
are. This was going to be slightly uphill work.
Max and Reg could see the sense in it, so could Martha bless her but still refused to have anything to do with the bang-bang stuff.
Well, it is all about a bit of give and take, so I decided to leave her be on it for a while. That afternoon, I set up a 25 yard range near the
river side and that evening was spent in firearm safety drills. This, Martha at least participated in. She is a lady of strong principles for
which she already had my respect and thanks for being the one who saved my life.
Also she had little problem in the, shall we say self-expression Dept. which is again, something I respect.
Once I was sure they would handle them safely, we migrated to loading, unloading and stoppage drills. With slightly tired arms and hands,
we called it a night at almost 11pm. Come tomorrow; I'd see who could hit what.
It turned out to be a fairly productive day and giving Martha the night to mull it over seemed to work out. She participated with the rest and
using the Sig's with suppressors, we got to the stage of competent in the normal run of things. Reg seemed to have taken the training to
heart as was actually helpful more than once. Particularly when it came to the safety aspect so that was a bonus for me.
Oddly enough out of the three of them, our most reluctant was the best shot. Steady hands do help I suppose. By day's end, I was confident
they would be able to handle the pistols with some measure of competency a way beyond standard civvies. They had a healthy respect
rather than fear of the firearms and that was not a bad place to start.
All told, I hoped they would never have to use them but these days, you never can tell.
That evening I got Reg and Max familiar with the MP5SD, I told Martha that I was not going to force her in to it so she just elected to watch
while we did our thing. Tomorrow, I'd get stuck in to the plan for clearing the island. Once that was done, Hounslow Barracks was next on
the hit list. As my twelfth day since waking from my enforced sleep came to an end, I was ready from my own personal perspective, to
start truly getting something done.
Next morning, I was up and about at half five and just put my cam trousers and socks on. I considered taking Molly along with me, guessing
her more than useful nostrils would be a help and decided to do so. She was awake as soon as I started moving about but I didn't do
anything that would make a noise. Just let 'em sleep a bit longer I thought, just sat and made a fuss of Molly who never seemed to turn
down a good stroking or chance to lick someone's face.
Just past six and Max appeared at the top of the stairs dressed in her usual gear, she smiled and crept down. Molly went straight over to
her and was rewarded with even more fuss; I could feel the draught from her wagging tail even at this distance. She came over with the
furry one in tow, parked herself in my lap and gave me a hug. She spoke softly.
I smiled and hugged her back "Indeedly my little angel, like the proverbial log, you?"
She nodded then looked me direct in the face and smiled "So what's the plan for today?"
I clued her in, it was going to involve seeing what we had to work with, then building a barricade for the bridge on our side. Best to make
it so we could build it, then run it out to where we needed it to be. Fix it up and run back sharpish. I thought that may take the best part of
a day assuming we had all the materials necessary. Once it was done and in place then going house to house so to speak and clearing it out.
Best place would be on the far end of the foot bridge but best to make it the island side as that gave a bit more room to maneuver if we
ran in to trouble. I didn't embellish and probably made it sound like an easy morning's walkabout. I knew the exact opposite could well be
the case but there's little point in dwelling on it and I would soon find out for myself.
She seemed to like the idea "Well I'd better get moving, washed up and get breakfast for the workers then!"
She gave me a quick peck on the cheek and did just that. Once everyone was around the breakfast table, I laid out the idea in simple form.
It drew no objections for anyone so first things first and it was a troop out to the tool shed. I had already seen the inside of this and knew
we had the tools we needed. The morning consisted of selecting the appropriate timber and we had a fair supply in cut logs and trees so
not short on that score. Found all the rope and nails required so got to it.
A bit of trial and error later resulted in a wooden palisade like fence some five feet high and seven feet wide. The timbers were averaging
about four inches diameter so it would make it heavy but just about manageable. I wish I'd paid more attention in woodwork class at
school now. Max found an old and slightly squeaky two wheeled beam trolley truck that with me on one end of the barricade fence and
Reg the other, we could conceivably roll it all the way there. A drop or several of oil took care of the offending squeaks.
We talked tactics as we worked and everyone was there through the day, Molly played the occasional fetch the stick game so she had her
exercise. Me and Reg would do the pull and shove routine, Max would keep an eye out and Martha would be the backup at home. The sun
was starting to kiss the horizon by the time we were done with work and talk. No-one objected to their roles so we eased down until
bedtime and all slept extremely well that night.
The early morning was bright, I awoke with more than a few twinges but that was to be expected. Martha was creeping down the stairs and
just smiled as I looked round. I gave her the thumbs up sign as she walked toward the bathroom. I took Molly for a walk to shake the
tightness from my muscles, returning for a shower and breakfast was being had by 8am and everyone seemed up for today's fun and
games. I ran over what we had discussed yesterday to make sure everyone knew what to do.
"Ok then, Reg, you and me will do the lumping, we'll take pistols. Max me darlin' you'll be the backup with the suppressed MP5
and Martha; you'll be our designated gate opener and closer. We'll all have the walkie-talkies on us so no excuses not to keep
All indicated they were ok with that, I impressed on Martha that she opens the gate to let us out on to the path but then closes it immediately
and keeps it that way until we were standing outside, ready to come in. The fence that separated the property from the rest of the island was
a wood slat backed by chain link type so sturdy enough. A single gate in the same style awaited us; it was no more than 5 or so feet high but
with enough gapping between the fence slats that we could see clearly and nothing except the rest of Eel Pie Island appeared to be on the
We made our run, well more like sort of brisk walk and it did indeed take a while to cover the 100 yards or so to the bridge.
It was as we were pushing, I got my first view of what this place was going to be like, it was a bloody rabbit warren from my perspective,
narrow paths and close together buildings. Normally a nightmare area to clear in CQB or Close Quarter Battle.
As is the Army way, we came to call it FISH.
Fighting In Someone else's House.
Granted that the un-dead were not conventionally armed but that didn't make them any less dangerous. Along the path from the gate took us
between two lots of single storey buildings that looked like homes but no two were the same in either building design or exterior decoration.
In fact in reflection of the Islands more than slightly colourful past, some of the exterior decorations reflected that. Some may call it messy,
I would say uniquely individual and why not? We made it to the bridge and I was starting to sweat like a white mouse in a tampon factory.
Max said she could see walkers on the far side so that got us going with a will, I reminded her to call Martha while Reg and I got it sorted.
There was a signpost over the end of the foot bridge supported by two sturdy metal uprights, it looked like it had been there for some time
and that suited me. A bit of maneuvering and we got the fence in between the end of the handrails on the bridge and the aforementioned
sign uprights and using the ropes, secured it in place. The ropes would have to be cut or deliberately undone to move it out the way and I
took a few seconds to make sure it was secure.
We then started making our way back and informed Martha of this. Back to the gate, through and safe without incident and everyone
accounted for, result!
I decided it may be a good idea for a cuppa before I went off for a stroll. The one thing our success did have going for it was any walkers
who had wandered on to the Island unnoticed were now here and going nowhere, likewise for those who may have already been here from
the start. I hoped it would stay that way as that made it a static number to deal with. I wish I knew what that number was but I'd find out
soon enough. Zero would be preferable but I just didn't think I was going to get that lucky.
By about 9:30, I was off to find out with Molly by my side as always. Max and Reg were my backup and arranged check-in's every
30 mins. I took enough water and snack stuff to keep us going. Time to go see what was going on about the place and whether I'd like it.
I had a Sig pistol with a suppressor and four magazines, The MP5SD with six and one locked on the weapon, if that wasn't enough then
we had real and fuckin' serious trouble. I was loaded up with as many bungee cords and chains with snap locks I could pack. The only
other gear was a crowbar and large bolt cutter for any pesky locks that I may have needed to get past and finally, an aerosol can of the
fluorescent marker paint.
Looking at what I had, a north/south zigzag sweep would be the best bet to effectively cover the most ground. Reg may well not have
approved but it was breaking and entering time. I consciously chose windows rather than doors, locked doors are better walker stoppers
than open ones so I preferred to leave those alone. I went through the same deal at each house, locate suitable window, bang on suitable
window, wait for one minute then if nothing happens break suitable widow and if necessary, lift the furry lass up for a sniff. It felt a bit
odd but before sticking my arm in to open it, I got in the habit of calling out inside before going any further.
Two calls and if no reaction, then I was in there with Molly on point.
The first twelve places were clear. All securely locked and empty. Whoever lived here had left in a hurry but locked the doors on their way
out. Exiting each place, I put a big 'X' spray painted in a conspicuous place and moved on. My radio checks as I went along were
acknowledged and so outward and onward.
The thirteenth place, typically of the number, was a slightly different matter.
A fairly large property, open ground left and right of the house and as brightly but individually decorated as the rest, I was beginning to think
the Max's grandparents house must have been the most normally coloured one on the whole island. The house itself was a single storey
place of approximately 1960's or so design more suited to a very large storage shed than standard house, that being square and simplistic in
layout at least on the outside. I could see the roof of what appeared to be an annex or smaller building tacked on to the far side, the roof of
that was above the main building.
As I entered through the gate and approached, it seemed more like one of those corrugated tin places that had been converted for living in
and the sign indicated a place where an artist working specifically in wood and scrap metal lived. As we approached, I noticed a window
already open, about 10 feet short of the door, the self-propelled walker detector started to sound off. I whispered to heel and she held her
ground but didn't go quiet.
I took a good look about, the annex looked to be a sort of prefab job and was definitely part of the main place. There was little to suggest
that any walkers were outside so we must have a few inside. Time to bring them out in to the open.
The door was a painted the same almost grass green as the walls and of the same metal sheet material with no windows. I made a circle of
the house watching the perimeter and found only a rear entrance but that was made of a wood framed door with large glass panels, one top
and one bottom.
This would make entry easier. I thought for a few seconds about how to approach this and came to the only conclusion I could.
She obeyed like the little trooper she is; I took a few steps forward and gave the lock area of the door a good swift kick with the sole of
my boot. It gave in one go and swung inward with a resounding crash against the inner wall. I stood back several paces with the MP5
in the shoulder and called out.
"British Army, anybody in there, please show yourselves now!"
There were a few moments of silence. I let some more pass then repeated the call; the only response was a rising groaning sound.
I stepped back a few more feet and waited.
"Come on ya bastards, just stick ya head out and I'll cure all your ills." I muttered.
Two of them finally obliged, I could see they used to be male and female, possible age was damn hard to tell. I dropped them both with a
single tap to the head. After a few seconds of waiting for more, I noticed Molly had gone quiet, so gave them one more round each and
then proceeded inside with care.
The air inside was thick with the stench of rotting flesh.
The place was certainly an artist's home, more than enough wood and metal working paraphernalia on the ground. A small flight of steps
led to a top floor area in the extension, the bottom of which seemed to be a kitchen. I swept the ground floor and saw nothing amiss but
the smell had not diminished.
I started to carefully climb the stairs and had the feeling I was not going to like what I would find.
Unfortunately, I was completely correct.
The door to the bedroom was half open; it looked like it had been barricaded from the inside but not held. It appeared to be a sectioned
single room made in to two.
The first room looked like an abattoir. What used to be a person and not adult, was lying in roughly the center; to all intents and purposes
it had been picked clean. Very little flesh remained on the body. I refrained from closer study and moved to the smaller back room.
This was even less pleasant. A set of children’s bunk beds in here and the remains of a person; a young child by the looks. I had my own
opinion of what had occurred but tried to mentally put up some walls sharpish.
Anything bad happening to kids is something I have a strong hatred for.
I could feel the sadness and fury in equal measure welling up inside me. After what might have been a minute or so, I felt a furry head
nudge against my leg and I looked at Molly.
A quick scratch between her ears, a swig of water and the switch in my brain flipped back to 'professional mode'.
I got on with the job.
I secured the place as best I could and left that slaughterhouse behind me for now.
Through the rest of the day, I covered everything else and added some 15 more walkers to the count. I fully admit I slipped out of mode
once or twice, I vented my anger upon them as there was no-one else. A few times I didn't even use the MP5 or Sig, my Kukri did the
talking and to be honest, I was glad of it.
I think it helped just to have something to take out my frustrations upon regardless of how bloody foolhardy it was to go hand to hand.
I needed to; I couldn't take this home with me. None of them deserved that sort of burden, not Reg, or Martha and for fuckin' certain not
my Little Angel. I was damn thankful for Molly. I piled the walkers and burned the bodies; there were ample flammable materials from the
boatsheds to do that and no shortage of sources of ignition. By the time the sun was getting close to the horizon, the job was done and in
certain ways, so was yours truly. Well almost, just one more thing to take care of before I called it a day.
I returned to the artists place, gathered the two small bodies and buried them as properly as I could. Truth to tell, I could well be categorised
as a true godless heathen but it just felt like the thing to do. For my benefit in a way I s'pose, for theirs in some small measure, but mostly so
no-one else would come upon this, see exactly what I had and go through those feelings I had experienced.
It would all come out sometime I know but for now, this had to stay with me.
I reached our Island home after checking the wooden wall we had installed and all was well. I arrived at the gate as darkness was falling,
I felt tired both mentally and physically and it must have showed. Max, Reg and Martha were waiting at the gate, I smiled and it was a
genuine one at seeing friendly faces. Molly and I came in and Max locked the gate. I thought of something to say and it did give me a boost
of sorts, the others likewise.
"Well folks, the bloody Island is ours and all that there is in it!"
It was only then that something occurred to me, we hadn't stopped to eat all day.
"and this furry one doth deserve some serious feeding."
I did too but to be honest, I was too damn knackered to feel hungry.
Martha gave Molly a good bit of fussing over as we walked back to the house and told her she was in for a treat, not certain she understood
but the tail was wagging furiously. Max and I just slipped an arm around each other; she looked at me with concern but like Reg, held off
all questions until we arrived inside.
That first hot cuppa went down well.
The second was politely sipped at while I filled them in on the day's happenings, minus a few details. In the end, we had the island and all
the supplies we could get our hands on so that was the next thing to get sorted. After a being gently ordered to put my now less than clean
clothes in the wash and get a shower, I felt in no position to argue and was well ready to call it a day, I didn't get away without a late
dinner, gently but sternly imposed upon me by all and my missing appetite came back, with its family and relatives in tow, as soon as the
smell of hot grub was under my nostrils.
Molly had been treated likewise and she was out for the count.
I wish I had been able to do the same as rapidly.
Next morning appeared to be a sleep late day for everyone; my peepers didn't crank open until 9am at least. I lifted my head to look around
and yawned, this seemed to alert Molly, she was up and over to me with a good morning face lick. I gave her a good morning and a decent
amount of fuss in return, she then went and stood by the door, looking at me.
"Ah, okedoke sweetheart."
I let her out to do her business and went off to do mine.
Breakfast was served by yours truly and we all scoffed well. By mutual agreement, we'd spend today on a supply run across the Island.
Tomorrow was the Hounslow Barracks bit. Our supplies forage went very well and everyone got plenty of window climbing in and out of
experience, so none of us could be accused of slacking and not getting any exercise. Covering each other didn't ease off either; the Island
may well have been cleared but that was no reason to drop our guard. During that day, I outlined the plan for hitting the barracks.
If Reg was agreeable then we would need the services of one lovely ship's captain with a lovely boat to ferry me, Reg and Molly to
Cadogan Pier to get the car and then use that to go to Hounslow.
We'd probably have to play a lot of it by ear but that was turning out to be the norm rather than the exception. Reg was in agreement and
Max said she would have liked to come along. I smiled at her and said
"And we'd love to have you along my little angel but the boat needed to be got back home and what's wrong with another day off eh?
Besides, we'll need someone on radio watch so at least you can split it between the two of you rather than all of us out gallivanting
while Martha does all the work at home."
Martha jokingly agreed with that and mockingly moaned about being the stay at home one while everyone else gets out in the fresh air and
having fun. We managed to keep the mood light for that day and everyone had an aim so it all went well.
Focus in almost any situation outside the normality of life is vital, and this situation was about as far away from normal as I think it's possible
to get in one go. After a long day hauling stuff about, the joint estimate that we now had enough dry and tinned food to last us for a couple
of months at least. I think Molly had sniffed the last 25% of the island she didn't the day before and in a few places, we even found some
doggy toys for her to play with so a happy fuzzy one was she.
We got an early start the next morning and were away from Eel Pie Island at just after eight. I was in a clean combats and bombed up to
the maximum. Reg was packing a Sig and MP5SD, yours truly the same with a G36 and all the magazines required plus the usual breaking
and entering gear.
Molly made do with her newish rubber squeaky bone.
Max Dropped us off and waited until we were away.
"Cap'n Max, This is Happy Wanderer and party, we are on our way to the mall for some shopping, see you back home soonest."
She acknowledged the call. "Safe travels, see you soon."
Reg got to drive and I gave him directions, Molly seemed quite comfy in the back. Less than 30 mins later, we had got on to the A4 Great
West Road headed for Hounslow and were just coming along Martindale Road when a fairly substantial and self-propelled road block
came in to view about 100 yards away from out final turn to get to the barracks main gates. A mob of some 20 walkers were moving
toward where we needed to go and we were coming up behind them. Once around that corner, there was about 250 yards to cover
to the gate.
I told Reg to stop and hold position, I'd scout this out on foot. "You sure you want to do that?" He asked.
"Nope!" I responded with a slight grin "But best try and see what we are dealing with here."
There were a few parked cars so I told Reg to pull in, and make like the rest of the surroundings. Molly was told to stay put and as soon as
we stopped I got out and using the cars parked as some cover, made my way forward and readied the MP5SD.
This was going to be a giggle.
It took about 5 minutes but the last of them shuffled around the corner, I gave it a minute more then followed. Just as I reached the corner,
a single rifle shot rang out somewhere ahead. A burst of automatic fire followed that then more sporadic, single shots. I took a chance and
went wide to see round the corner.
The gunfire seemed to be coming from the vicinity of the gate, and was and acting like a magnet to the walkers of course. I could see that,
in addition to the mob we were being held up by, there must have been 30 plus walkers massing at the junction of Beavers Lane and
Barrack Road opposite where the main gate was. A second gate did exist but that was past this lot. I was considering going back to the car
and telling Reg to take the roundabout route to the gate further down.
Then I heard a vehicle being revved up followed by some fairly intense automatic weapons fire. There was a break in the fire, and then a
Landrover seemed to tear through the mob of un-dead straight in to Barrack Road and could hear the driver was flooring it as the sound
of a screaming voice started up. The sound of the Landy died away and said screaming stopped at about the same time.
The herd had turned as one and were starting to wander in the same direction as the vehicle had sped away from the Barracks. I radioed
Reg as nothing that I could see was close enough to hear me. I kept my voice low anyway just to be on the safe side.
"Ok Reg, bring the car down to the corner, I'll be waiting there."
He acknowledged and within a minute, he was pulling in beside me. I told him of what I'd seen and suggested we just be patient and wait
until it thinned out at the junction. We conversed while keeping an eye out as to what may have happened.
"Do you think it's any of your lot?" he asked.
"Tough to say mate, we'll know more soon. I just hope they've locked up behind them otherwise this could get to be an
amusing day playing tag with the local population."
He didn't follow my gallows humour as such, just nodded and we waited them out. About half an hour later, we saw our opportunity.
They were down to just over half a dozen that I could see, so told Reg to stick with me at walking pace and about 20 yards behind,
I'd go on foot. I walked down the center of the street and kept a sharp eye all around for stragglers.
We made it to the main gate area and the herd had cleared of except for the aforementioned half a dozen who were more interested in
the body they were chewing their way through.
With a polite cough and an "Excuse me please!" to get the party started, I took them down fairly swiftly and we were in the clear.
By the look of it the poor soul they had either left behind or had just not been quick enough to get on the Landy, had been set upon by
quite a few of the walkers as there wasn't much left.
The gate had been secured in a hurry via a chain and padlock. This was removed via the bolt cutters and I called Reg in, he drove through
the gate and I closed it and used two snap lock chains tied tight. We were in and I hoped it was only us. There were a few motionless
bodies of what appeared to be former walkers about the place but no huge numbers.
Following the signs, we made straight for the Motor Transport area on the north east side.
The yard consisted of a large open area that would normally be packed with vehicles. A covered parking area and fuel store to the south
end, the east and north were long shed like structures that held the tool and repair shops, behind them were the admin blocks I assumed
for the division. To the west, two low buildings that housed the main vehicle storage areas for those being worked upon or senior officers
transport because they didn't want their prize motors getting dirty or a place where they could get them cleaned up for free.
Just past those was a very long two storey structure that was probably accommodation blocks.
It was fairly empty, a couple of Landrover Snatch-2's which look like a very boxy version of the standard army Landrover 4x4, A Leyland
flat bed load carrying truck and, thankfully, a hulking great 24 tonne Mastiff 2 armoured 6x6 drive patrol vehicle but without the cage
armour on it. It's the British variant of the American Cougar HE.
It looked like a closed in long nosed truck with some serious additional attitude, a front single axle and double rear ones with large, heavy
tread all terrain tyres. The underside had a 'V' boat hull shape to deflect blast damage from mines and so forth. Small driver and passenger
side doors along with large twin rear doors and three top hatches.
The small, tinted armoured front and side windows completed the no-nonsense look.
"Mine!" I called as soon as I saw it with an idiot grin on my face.
Molly took a leak on the front tyre.
There's just no impressing some folks.
We decided to start combing the base to see what goodies could be found, the armoury was unlocked and empty apart from some smoke
grenades which I decided we may as well take. I withdrew some 'just in case' load bearing kit, boots and a couple of sets of binoculars
from the stores but didn't bother with the requisition chits; I thought I'd do that later.
The MT area had some useful kit but we set about filling some half dozen jerry cans with diesel and the same with petrol. The keys for
some of the vehicles were stored in the office. Giving the Mastiff a good look over, she was in serviceable condition and still in her desert
scheme, just needed the fuel tanks topping up and we were good to go. I climbed in and checked the electrical system, all seemed well so
I hit the starter, a few polite coughs from the engine and the Caterpillar C-7 diesel roared in to life, sorted!
The Bowman radios all worked, just depended if anyone was on any network we could find, the scanner would have to wait until we were
in better position to try it out. I found the operating manuals for Reg.
"There ya go mate, some light bedtime reading for ya." It was easier than telling how to operate it which I was familiar with.
Our food supply back home was not in need of any backing up so left any foodstuffs we came across save a 24hr MRE ration pack which
would serve as lunch. There was plenty of room to shove gear in the back of the beast, since it normally carried up to eight fully equipped
troops. One copper and an Alsatian weren't going to push the load limits I reckoned. Some engine oils, fluids and associated coolants were
lifted and loaded. I was just getting the last of the stuff loaded up when Molly gave a single bark and looked south.
I looked in that direction and used one of the pairs of binoculars I'd 'borrowed'.
A Chinook was approaching from the south at low level. Reg arrived at my shoulder when the sound reached us. I gave Molly her
well-deserved stroking and "Good girl"
"Do you think that's the same one that came by a couple of days back Ben?"
I thought about this for a moment "Could be Reg, its coming right this way so I think we may find out, keep ya pistol handy mate."
I slung the MP5 and pulled round the G36, readied and clicked the selector to single shot. The Chinook closed the distance fairly quickly
and took a wide circle over the barracks. It slowed as it passed over the MT yard, I made sure we kept ourselves in sight but close to cover,
Molly was having a bit of a bark session at it. It seemed to be the same one as last time so I decided it was time to see what the score was.
I told Reg to stay here and keep an eye out. When the helo was on its second pass and over the MT area, I waved and indicated toward
the sports ground, then ran the hundred or so yards to the edge of the field with Molly right on my heels and threw a white smoke grenade.
The Chinook made a wide arc then approached the sports field and came in to land, the twin rotors kicked up the dried grass and dust quite
impressively. The pilot did a tail wheels first then rolled before settling the craft on its front gear and coming to a stop some 30 yards away
from the edge of the field at three quarters front on to me. I could hear the engines start to wind down so with the G36 at low port but
ready to put the butt in to my shoulder, I made sure my beret was on straight and walked slowly over with my ever present furry sidekick
sticking with me.
The rotors slowed to a stop and a figure in British Army Multi Terrain Pattern camo stepped off the rear ramp followed by another in dark
blue overalls, the pilot was still in the cockpit doing his switch throwing thing. The one in DPM had an L85A2 but slung to the back.
As they got closer I could see that the MTP wearer was female and sported a Parachute Regiment maroon beret, the fellow with her,
a short ginger headed bloke with ears that seemed to stick out more than they should.
The female was about 5'9" or so, slim build and an officer judging by how her camo fitted, which was very well around a nicely shaped
physique, the rank slide I could see on the front of the smock confirmed Captain. The bloke was shorter by a good foot I reckoned.
We met but I stopped still leaving some 10 feet in between us and making sure the helo was kept in full view.
"Morning folks, welcome to Hounslow Barracks." I said in cheery tone.
The woman stepped forward a pace, looked at me closely, and certainly noted the beret then spoke in a very clear and slightly upper
class sounding voice.
"Captain Laura V, Parachute Regiment, my associate is Kevin B. of the Army Air Corps. Our pilot, Major Sam B. is also of the AAC.
...And you are?"
Well I have to say and no disrespect intended to women who do serve, she was certainly better looking than most of the women I had
encountered in my service time, steel grey eyes and full lips with an almost symmetrical face with high cheekbones and smooth, almost
flawless skin. I judged her to be possibly mid to late twenties or thereabouts.
The bloke she indicated to, was someone who I'd call fit enough with a slightly stocky build under the less than well-fitting overalls.
He appeared to be in his mid thirties. The face had seen some wear and tear. The nose looked like it had possibly been in receipt of a few
fists before now and the beginning of lines on his face slightly hidden by stubble, seemed a fellow in good spirits though. He had sharp
looking blue eyes and probably didn't miss a trick. He reminded me of someone I knew at school.
I answered the question.
"Ben Hawk at your service ma'am, late of Her Majesty's Parachute Regiment" with a nod toward her "Her Majesty's Special Air
Service, Balfour Beatty Construction and now freelance one could say. And this young lady is Molly, another wayward soul who
found me, we've been knocking around together ever since."
Molly had just sat there looking at the newcomers but made no movement, apart from the wagging tail when her name was mentioned.
I ended with a hopefully friendly smile. This seemed to relax the situation as the one I assumed was the pilot had come out of the helo
and walked over. Almost six feet tall with very dark brown to black hair, clean shaven face with a strong, square jaw line and solid chin
and dark brown eyes that seemed every bit as sharp as Kevin's. He had the look of someone confident but not overly so with a ready
smile which came out as he reached his compatriots.
Sensing no threat, I walked over and shook hands with all, Molly and Kevin became instant friends.
I got the conversation going.
"So, how are things?" And before an answer was forthcoming, I went in to info gathering mode.
"How did that argument between you and the Blackhawk work out?"
They looked at each other with bemused expressions.
"I assume that since you're here and that is still flying," I indicated toward the Chinook, "that you came out on top?"
Sam spoke up and smiled, "We were happy to call it a draw."
I returned the smile and said we can continue this over by our vehicle, "I'll see what mystery meals the MRE's can come up with,
I have another one of our group there but don't worry, he's a copper and a decent bloke." I radioed Reg and told him to break out the
best china as we were having guests for lunch. The slight pause was broken by a simple, if slightly confused sounding, "Ok Ben."
I led the way back to the Mastiff as we talked, I told them a little of what had happened to me, the people I was in with but said nothing of
where we were located. I didn't trust them that much yet and I was fairly sure they felt the same about me; I wouldn't have blamed them
to be honest. We arrived at the vehicle and Reg was reading through the instructions on what to do with the pouches. Introductions all
round made, we had lunch and they told their story. This ended up filling in a lot of the blanks for me...and then some.
Their story of this mess began at London City Airport, Sam told me that his unit had been roped in to do the airborne spraying of what they
were told was the flu vaccine, this turned out not to be the case. I said I dimly remember the news item about that and he concurred that it
was that day they had started spraying already but it wasn't until late that day things began to fall apart.
As they later found out, what they had been spraying was something called the 'T Virus', that would eventually kill those who became
infected with it and then reanimate them, hence the walking dead. It was the day after that the dead were really on the move and the
evening of the second day was when their forward base at London City Airport was overrun. Sam and Kevin had managed to get to the
last airworthy Lynx helo and escaped as the dead were clawing at the skids.
Laura told us that she was the Army liaison to the Umbrella Corporation and she was with their team at the field base they had set up in
London near to Kings Cross Station. At the time, she was led to believe it was for rescue and medical quarantine but after a few days,
it became apparent that this was not exactly the case. The Umbrella Corp. had jurisdiction and autonomy to do whatever they needed to,
or at least that's what she was told by her command.
Some of the first survivors that came in where put to work for the scientists and suits there and some were less than savoury characters.
A few were regular Army but not subject to her command. The survivors brought in to the camp never left, or at least it seemed that way
to her but once the scientific teams got them, she never saw then again and they were taken to areas she was barred from going in to.
The rumours coming from those rescued that she had been able to speak to at the Umbrella field base led her to believe that mistreatment
was happening before they arrived there.
At that she wanted to speak to her command in person so got them to fly her out on an Army helo to the forward evacuation area.
Sam and Kevin got back to their squadron base at Middle Wallop in east Hampshire using the Lynx and were detailed to take a Chinook
and fly to the forward evacuation area at Windsor Castle some 20 miles outside London for assignment. On arriving there, they refueled
and started to sweep London from the center outward to find survivors for several days. It was there they met Laura.
She had briefed her command about what she had seen but they were slow to react, communications and the chain of command was a
complete bloody shambles most of the time, field commanders did what they believed best under the circumstances and used their
meager assets accordingly. Laura was ordered to go with Sam and Kevin as weapons support for the sweep of London.
Something went ping in my brain and I spoke to Laura directly.
"Those survivors that were brought in, I assume it was by a team this Umbrella mob sent out, yes?" She confirmed it was.
"Hum...this team, it wouldn't happen to have been one deffo squaddie, one kid and led by a well mouthy, fat tub of lard
driving a Landrover would it?"
She looked at me oddly but said it was.
I told her of my encounter with just such a group on Westminster Bridge.
She nodded and related that some of the women claimed to have been raped by the fat one but she was powerless to do anything about
it and was pretty much told to mind her own business by Umbrella security. That was when she got out and met up with Sam and Kevin
at Windsor, they decided to go have a look round themselves in the Chinook, that's when things got hot with Umbrella. They had armed
Blackhawks. Sam chipped in and said it was only fortunate that the Umbrella mob in the helos were good but not combat trained, if they
had been then it's very unlikely we would be having this conversation.
To all intents and purposes, they had been going it alone to try to find out what was going on and inform the powers that be. They had to
use Heathrow as a refueling point but that was now walker territory. A defensive line had been set up but with the speed this had
happened, they did not know whether it was successful or not.
The line was little more than a mark on the map he showed me. It stretched from Ipswich near the east coast, then west and swinging
south around London through Cambridge, Bedford to Gloucester then to Swindon, Andover and finally Portsmouth. But they had heard
that there was an outbreak in Portsmouth so that area was off limits. Last they had heard on the aircraft radio that Windsor was about to
be evacuated as that would have left it inside the perimeter. They were making a last run in to London and that's when the Blackhawks
turned up again. The aircraft had taken some damage and they were looking for a place to repair.
They couldn't make it to Middle Wallop with the damage to the helo and any other place was overrun.
"So, in a nutshell..." I asked while trying to keep calm and it was difficult, "this whole thing is this Umbrella Corporations
doing, deliberate biological warfare that has killed potentially millions in some experiment and is no accident...do I have that right?"
They all said that this appeared to be the case.
I asked again "So who is the one directly responsible?"
Sam said it was Albert Wesker, He wasn't a representative for Umbrella, he is Umbrella.
It was at that point the alloy canteen mug I was holding gave way under my grip and crumpled up like tinfoil.
The group sat silently for a while.
After a minute, I asked Kevin what the Chinook required. He told me they had taken some damage to the combining transmission tank and
they were leaking lubricant. It would have to be removed which was no small job and welded up.
I spoke in the sort of manner that while calm, indicated any objections would be massively unwise.
"Right then, Reg, get what gear you can in to the car and get back home, I'll stay here and help these folks out then return home
in the Mastiff as soon as I can, Tell Max and Martha everything is all right. Okedoke fella?"
He simply nodded and got to it, bless 'im. Molly nudged me with her head and stood there with tail wagging, I made a fuss of her
"Yes babe, you're sticking with me." The smile that brought to my face was genuine and softened my mood a tad.
I had tried the walkie-talkies to raise home but must have been just out of range, it was about three miles as the crow flies back to Eel Pie
Island so that was out. I went with Reg to the gate, took out a few walkers which had turned up, attracted by the sound of the Chinook
and made a clear way
for him to get through.
"Don't forget to call the ladies up when you're in range and take care of yaself, I'll see you soon."
He just nodded and drove off as I secured the gate again, and then headed back to where the crew were waiting and we got to work.
I looked at Sam, Kevin and Laura "Right then folks, what do you need?"
The car park was clear enough to get the Chinook in so that saved walking back and forth to repair it. Sam and Kevin saw to that while
Laura and I started to hunt for a generator and welding gear. She half smiled at me as we worked and asked,
"So who's Max and Martha?"
I told her my story in shorthand but made mention in depth of the role they had played in keeping me alive. How we met Reg and Molly.
The rest I glossed over with little embellishment as I didn't see it to be that important. I still left out the location of the house we were living
in, it wasn't mine after all and I had no right to go blurting it out. I felt Max may well have disagreed with me but I still felt it wasn't right
without asking her first and that was a luxury I didn't have. Also I still felt protective toward them both in no small measure.
I explained all that when Laura asked and she accepted that. She was Army like I used to be and understood my viewpoint. As for herself,
she had a nagging disappointment about not being allowed to use her training as she felt appropriate. She was a Para after all first and
foremost in her mind; I for one could see her point. Para's are fighters, it's what they do best and no amount of telling would convince
Through that day we got it set up with some ad-hoc scaffolding to get the cover off and it was no small lump of metal either. Then came
the cleanout and dry off before Kevin could get to welding it up. It would take several hours until that was ready so a few more MRE
packs were liberated and dug in to. During that time, I made a sweep of the perimeter to make sure we wouldn't be disturbed, as it was
getting dark, I finished my sweep and we were in the clear, apart from us, the place was empty.
Laura and I stood guard that night in four hour on, four hour off. We had a little time speaking before dawn while Sam and Kevin were
sleeping. She told me that Sam's family were in London somewhere and he wanted to get this done so he could go and find them.
I sympathised with this.
"Seems we all have an aim in this mess don't we."
She agreed and her aim was to do what she could to help when it came to clearing up the mess that Umbrella had left behind them. I agreed
and said that we would all be plenty busy when that kicked off. Inwardly, I wanted the head of Albert Wesker and if I had the chance to
separate it from the rest of him myself, so much the better.
At first light, Kevin got to work while I had a quick nap with my furry friend. She seemed to take quite well to the new company and was
not above a little stick throw and fetch fun. I got an hour's shut eye which was enough, then considered arriving back with the monster I
was planning to drive out of here. I considered the best option would be to back it up to the bridge and use it as a block and exit by the
rear doors. All well and good but that left a sizable space under it that one of the un-dead could crawl through.
I talked to Kevin about this and he suggested using one of the parts of spare cage armour from the sheds and making something from that
to fit over said gap. An oxy-acetylene cutter and some cage armour later had the appropriate lump which was loaded in the Mastiff. It was
approaching 11am when we were done sorting the Chinook and found a suitable lubricant supply that, as Kevin put it
"Would do for now until we can get the proper stuff."
The crack of a rifle shot got our attention. I looked at Laura and just said "Might be time to get defensive, I'll go see what's happening."
More shots rang out as I came to the corner of an open front covered parking area and could see the main gate. Through the binoculars I
saw what the problem was. Our friends in the Landrover were back it appeared; I spotted the squaddie firing at the few walkers who had
gathered at the gate. At least he was doing something right and clearing a path. I could almost hear the fat man shouting from this distance.
Laura arrived at my shoulder and I clued her in.
Something resembling a grim smirk crossed her face.
"We have company." She remarked with a hint of satisfaction and anticipation.
I guessed what her aim was and said that it depends on what they do but I suspect they will secure the gate after they get through it.
"All the better if they do, then we can take our time."
I understood what she had in mind now and said that if I hold here and just keep low, she could get to the side and we could have them
in a cross fire.
"Best see if they want to play smart or stupid first, they could be a source of intelligence." I offered and she nodded.
We put our plan in to action. She took position behind the Mastiff after letting the fellas know the score, they had weapons and fell back
to the Chinook.
Someone in the Landrover had their smart head on today, the short amount of consternation about the new chain ties around the gate halted
them only momentarily, they shot more than a few walkers to make way, barged the gate and then backed up to force the gate closed and
chain it with new ones. The walkers were turning in to a mass of them now, they hadn't appeared to lose interest this time after the noise the
Chinook made yesterday and must have been dawning them in from some distance, I could see the mob was starting to grow, gathering
at the gate.
It was a close run thing but they got the gate secured and seemed to be catching their breath for a bit. I saw the fat one, the squaddie and
the kid but there was a fourth, in civvies and looked like the hired help as he was the one doing the chaining up. I looked to where Laura
was and indicated four people, she nodded and the slightly evil smirk returned.
I would not want to get on that woman's bad side.
The Landrover gang finally got it together with the always present shouting of round boy and they started making their way toward the
MT yard. I signalled they were coming and shrank back in to a corner of the open front covered parking space; Laura just stepped
back behind the Mastiff.
They drove the Landrover like it was stolen and screeched to a halt at the MT yard main shed storage areas. That placed me behind
them at about 25 yards and Laura to their right about 20 yards away, perfect.
They all got out and the squaddie with the L85 just shouldered it on to his back, the rest had side arms and hadn't drawn them.
I looked to Laura; she could see me but was out of their sight behind the Mastiff's front tyre.
We snapped the trap.
I pulled up the G36 and Laura did the same with her L85 and we appeared at the same time. We both moved at a sharp pace, I along the
side of the main shed and she called out almost the exact same time as they saw her, but not me.
"Stand fucking still!" She could shout quite loud it appeared.
They all froze for a second, the squaddie was behind the Landy out of Laura's view but not mine, I could see him start to reach for his
weapon and spoke up when I was only 10 yards away.
"Don't be fucking silly sunshine." I growled at him and he froze in shock, the kid was less than enthusiastic and the civvie made
the mistake of going for his side arm.
Laura and I dropped him in the same instant. Her shot hit him in the chest and mine removed most of what passed for a brain,
the residue landing on the large fella who was standing close to him.
That did it.
The fat man went in to a lathering shout rage. I closed the gap and told the squaddie to lay down his weapons, the kid likewise. Laura just
introduced the butt of her rifle to lard buckets face and he went silent, well almost. The other two got the message and gave it a rest there
and then. I had them spread eagled and face down next where the fat one was still cursing and bleeding from his slightly split nose.
Laura had it covered so I went off to get some rope as Sam, Kevin and Molly came over. I got back in short order and Molly sniffed at the
newcomers and even growled at the loud bleeding gentleman, which seemed to shut him up for a second and proved she was not only
intelligent but an excellent judge of character.
Laura started to question our new arrivals once they were securely tied up. She had a lovely face but by god, when she wanted to pour on
the malice she was a bloody natural. Even Kevin and Sam looked a bit worried about it and they knew her better than I did. After a short
amount of time we got the details even though they weren't a lot.
Apparently this was the last fuel run and the amount of jerry cans in the back of the Landy bore that out, they had taken everything else
within easy reach over the time they had been at the Umbrella field base and this was the last place. Umbrella was pulling out, they
were doing something else before they went but they didn't know exactly what.
A small amount of persuading from Laura loosened their brain cells nicely. It seems they were leaving something behind and going to their
next or main base of operations but none of them knew where that was. They came across as truthful if somewhat unnerved. The squaddie
was the calmest of them but I expected that at least, he answered questions when asked and then shut up, a wise move considering the
armed and apparent crazy woman who was speaking at them.
The last any of them said was that they were expected back soon but we got the idea, if they didn't come back, they would be left behind.
Or they already had been and Umbrella just wanted shot of them. A claim strenuously denied by the fat man but the squaddie was
convinced they had outlived their usefulness to Umbrella. All through this, the kid had remained silent and kept on looking to the
older squaddie. This told me something at least and I know Laura had noticed it.
It was becoming clear that we wouldn't get anything more useful so it was getting on for time to go. Sam and Kevin went off to prep
the Chinook and I had a quiet word with Laura.
"So, what do we do with this bunch of outstanding citizens?" I could see that despite her justifiable venom for the fat one,
she was undecided.
"Listen Laura, The gobby one aside, the squaddie is just a follower and the kid is a follower of a follower, let me have
a word with 'em and then we'll decide what to do about motor mouth over there, yeah?"
She agreed to this and went off to help the boys. I untied the two and left the rotund one where he was and pulled them off to one side.
I talked to the squaddie, one soldier to another but didn't bother asking names as I considered it irrelevant.
"Well...this is a fine pile of shit you've gotten yaself in to mate...the question is what do we do with you now?"
I paused to let that sink in.
He answered in flat tone. "I fucked up didn't I" was his only response but it said all it needed to in the given circumstances.
I had only one answer but didn't bother confirming what he'd said as we both knew it was true. I spoke and made sure the two were in
no doubt I was deadly serious in my intentions.
"Right then, here's the deal. We are leaving and I don't want to waste ammo on you two, but if we ever cross paths again and
you're on the wrong side, I swear by my sandy beret I will kill you both with my bare hands, you have my fucking word on that!
Are we clear?"
They both acknowledged and I continued.
"A little bird tells me that the fat one is in the habit of not being too polite with any female survivors you have come across in
the recent past, true or false and this has no bearing on my previous statement."
The kid, for the first time, spoke up "He raped all of them."
The squaddies reaction was a simple nod in confirmation without any emotion. I looked them both in the face and saw no trace of lying.
"All right you two; there are rations in the stores, and fuel in the tanks over there" I spoke gesturing in the directions
of both places.
"Get ya kit together and be ready to go in twenty, now fucking vanish!"
They left to get the kit I had gently suggested they acquire and went off to find Laura and tell her what I had decided. She didn't fully
approve but went with it, she said the Chinook was ready to go and they were starting her up to test the repairs. I could hear the ignition
of the turbines and turned to Laura, there was one last detail to attend to.
"Now, about our fat friend..."
We discussed it like we were talking about the weather. I told her I'd had it confirmed what he did to the women survivors they had found
and could find no reason to doubt what I had been told; she said that tallied with her assessment. Well I wasn't going to waste ammo on
him; we had no facilities to hold him, no manpower to guard or resources to feed him, not that I wanted to anyway.
"You're off on your own little jaunt to where ever you have to go so I suspect you wouldn't want him hanging around with you."
She indicated in a somewhat less than ladylike fashion that she would not and was happy for me to take care of that little detail.
"Speaking of which, where are you off to?" I asked.
We discussed the tactical situation as best we knew it with Sam and Kevin once they were happy with how the Chinook was behaving, the
consensus seemed to be to find any other survivors and get out. They asked about the group I was with and whether they wished to leave.
I told them I had no idea and would discuss it with them. I was getting the feeling I could trust these folks and made a decision.
They said they were going to try and get to Windsor but if not then Middle Wallop in the hope they could refuel and repair the skin and
minor damage the altercation with the Blackhawks had caused. There was nowhere else to go at this point and any refuelling places were
in dangerous territory. I told them that if they could make it back then be sure you are over Eel Pie Island as soon as you can make it.
They asked why not right now.
"Well the only place you can land that beast has a few trees in the way so I think they would be best removed before hand."
They got the idea and said they would try their best and I was in no doubt they meant it wholeheartedly. We agreed to use the number 3
pre-set on the Bowman radio, gave them my call sign and asked if they minded being 'Frequent Flyers' which caused a needed laugh and
it was settled. I shook hands with them all and gave my wishes of good luck which were returned; even Molly got a good luck stroke and
told to keep me out of trouble.
I left them to start the Chinook, I met up with the two other miscreants and they were loading up the Landy I asked if they were ready and
was told almost. The kid seemed to have found his tongue again and asked what I was going to do with him, pointing to the fat man.
The squaddie answered for me.
"Shut up and get this done."
Which was pretty much my take on things. I freely admit my mind was in 'evil and vengeful fucker mode' on what to do with the last
miscreant as I dragged his not inconsiderable bulk in to the open vehicle shed and tied him quite securely to one of the roof support
uprights. He looked at me with no small amount of dislike and demanded to know what I was going to do. I responded in a light
"Don't worry fella; someone will be along very soon to take care of you as you so richly deserve."
I left the spluttering lump where he was and went outside and over to the Chinook, whose rotors were starting to turn. Laura was on
the rear ramp.
"Can you give me two minutes then take off and head north? I'll need some noise to draw the walkers this way."
She looked a bit puzzled but got on the intercom and asked, after a few seconds she gave the thumbs up. I nodded, stepped off the ramp,
gave her a proper salute and shouted over the noise of the engines.
"Until next time then!" I smiled which was returned and then I got back to the Landy.
I handed the L85 rifle back to the squaddie with a 'Don't you even think about it' look and then said my last to them.
"Right, we'll be going out the main gate. I'll be in the Mastiff, you follow and keep up straight down Barrack Road, when we hit the
junction with the A315, I'm going left, you will go right and keep going, try to follow me and the last thing you will see is the rear
axle of that fucking monster as I back it up over your Landy, got me?"
They indicated they did indeed get me so I got to it.
I lifted Molly in to the cab then climbed in the Mastiff myself, took a few seconds to remind myself where everything was and got the seat
belt secured. Switched on the power systems and hit the starter. The C-7 Diesel first roared in to life then settled to a low rumble. In gear,
fired up the rear and side camera displays which got an inquisitive sniff from you know who and away we went.
I put on some speed as I approached the last turn to the main gate and racked it up to 25mph. I could already see the walkers were over 10
deep as I made my run.
The impact was nothing short of impressive, though I felt a slight nudge as the gates and their hinges parted company and helped smash the
walkers aside and down but many remained in the way. Twenty four tonnes at speed will not be easily stopped and frail bodies were
I felt the Mastiff rise ever so slightly as it crushed the mass of bodies beneath it. The six wheel drive dug in, carried me over the growing
pile like it was just a slight bump in the road and straight onward. I afforded a glance in the rear camera as I shot across the junction and
toward Barrack Road; the Landy had dropped back slightly to get more speed up and made it over the large and very soggy mess I'd left
in my wake. Any other walkers in the road as I travelled along it were of no concern.
I slowed at the junction to the A 315, made my left turn and carried on, a look in the rear view confirmed they had turned right and were
continuing. After a couple of miles I made the turn from Hospital Bridge road on to the A316 Chertsey Road and slowed to about 10 mph
and got on the Bowman.
"Frequent Flyers, this is Happy Wanderer, how's things?" About two seconds delay and Kevin's voice greeted me.
"All hale, hearty and enjoying the view from up here, no peanuts or in-flight movie but it'll do and the lass is purring like a kitten,
you home yet?"
I smiled but I felt it was going to be the typical response, correct RT procedure was on hold for the duration I suspected, not that I was
bothered in the least.
"Getting there mate, just about to phone ahead and tell 'em to get the kettle on!" That got a laugh.
"Man after my own heart, see you in a day or so, Frequent Flyers signing off." I grinned and responded.
"Happy Wanderer over and most definitely out!"
I continued my journey.
Out of slight boredom, I set the NET switch on the Bowman and went through the pre-set frequencies. Nothing but silence from the radio.
Until one I happened upon caused me to slow the Mastiff to a stop.
I heard some snap comms going on, short speech but very uniform. Possibly three voices talking, one was English for certain, a woman
with almost the same mode of speech Laura had used but it wasn't her. Slightly older maybe? Another was American, male and spoke
in a precise words, the third was also American. Female and with that pleasant slight southern drawl but still quite clear in speech.
I looked at the cameras and all round showed me clear, no walkers or anything else for that matter so I listened closely for a while.
"You've got my teams assessment, an asset?" The American male voice was abrupt.
"Possibly...Report Progress" Rather posh sounding English woman.
"Stopped, not movin'." The southern sounding female spoke.
"Any other activity in the area you are aware of?" American male.
"Checking cams alpha 2351 to delta 0482." Southern female replied and there was a pause of about a minute. "...negative."
A few moments passed. The same voice came back on "Still stationary..."
I sat and listened, Molly's ears were up at the sound of new voices and after applying the usual scratch between her ears, I went back to
listening. The conversation went back and forth, seemed like they were waiting for something. They had to be within 30km as that was the
range of the Bowman; but going by the clarity, maybe a bit closer than that. They had to be using the same kit for the encryption to work.
Just for the hell of it, I unbuckled and grabbed my binoculars; Molly's curious gaze followed me. I then stuck my head out of the large top
hatch and had a look around. I couldn't see anything moving for bloody miles. Southern girls voice came from the speaker,
"He's all just looking out o' the top hatch with binoculars."
I looked about and noticed some CCTV cameras on a mast at the roadside some 40 yards from me and played a hunch.
I scratched my nose.
"He's just standing there and scratchin' his nose."
I went back inside and closed the top hatch.
"Still not movin'...ah don't know why."
I felt that little devil come to rest on my shoulder and gave in. I switched from speaker to headset and put it on, then keyed up
the transmit, grinned and spoke in a casual tone.
"I'm not moving dear lady because I'm listening to this fascinating conversation."