Primordial Soup

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Chapter 8

Bill chucked his cards into the deck and leaned back in his chair. ‘Come on everyone, say what’s on your mind. You all think were fucked.’

‘You have a wonderful way with words, William,’ said Cynthia.

‘I say it as I see it love. You lot are like a wet weekend in Scarborough.’

‘Has it occurred to you that we’ve all lost loved one’s and that living down here, all thrown together as such, may not be everyone’s ideal situation to be in. So forgive me for not being overly enthusiastic about a game of cards.’

‘You have a wonderful way with words, Cynthia.’

Laughter spread through them like an infection.

‘That’s better,’ Bill said, as the laughter subsided. ‘Look, we have no control over the situation we’re in so we have to make the best of it. I lost my wife and friends to those bloody creatures and I know you’re all going through your own personal grief, but we’re alive and we should be thankful for that. A lot of people weren’t as lucky as us, so let’s be grateful and make the best of a bad lot.’

‘You’re right of course William and I’m sorry I snapped at you.’

Bill leaned forward and took Cynthia’s hand, he lifted it gently and kissed it. ’Thank you Madam, your apology is respectfully accepted.

Cynthia blushed and pulled her hand away. ‘I’m glad to see the art of chivalry is not completely dead.’

This brought further laughter from the group.

Julia came rushing into the room. ’There’s been a public address from the Prime Minister. Major Barnes is going to play it throughout the shelter.

Helen and Emma came into the room and sat at the table. ‘The kids are all asleep,’ Emma said, ‘but Chloe looks a bit flushed Julia she keeps crying.’

‘It’s just her teething Emma, nothing to worry about. The Prime Ministers address will be on in a minute.’

The speakers screeched into life. Major Barnes voice came on. ‘Testing. Testing.’ There was a bit of feedback then the speaker settled down.

They listened in silence to the Prime Minister address the nation. When the speech had ended they all looked at each other, lost for words.

Shaun broke the silence. He looked over at Luke. ‘We’re fucked mate. What a cop out. That lot are legging it, the Bastards.’

‘Please try to contain your language, Shaun. There are ladies present.’

‘Sorry. But it’s true. That lot are running away and leaving us to fend for ourselves.’

‘It is not true, Shaun. They’re just following procedure. At times like this, when the nation comes under threat from an invading force, the government have to co-ordinate any counter attack from a place of safety, how could they operate any other way. You heard the Prime Minister, the Americans are coming to help, as will the rest of the world.’

‘Whatever way you put it, Cynthia, they always look out for themselves and bugger the rest of us.’

‘Shaun, listen to me. You’re far too young to understand. My husband works for the ministry. I can assure you the government will do everything in their power to stop this.’

‘Let’s hope you’re right. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life stuck down here.’

‘I’m going to find my mum and dad and bring them back here.’

‘They could be anywhere Luke,’ said Shaun. ‘You saw what’s happening out there. We won’t stand a chance mate.’

Luke turned on him, angrily. ‘I’m not asking you to come. I can do this by myself.’

A soldier appeared outside the room. ‘Can you all come with me?’ He turned and walked back down the corridor.

‘Will you stay and look after the kids Emma? I’ll tell you what’s happening when I get back.’

‘Yeah, you go,’ she said, glad to be alone for a while.

The soldier was waiting for them at the end of the corridor. They followed him to a room filled with soldiers. Major Barnes was standing on a small podium in front of a wall lined with maps. Sergeant Malloy and Sergeant Gallagher were sitting to the side of him. Everybody was talking at once.

’Major Barnes called for silence. ‘Okay, now were all here.’ He looked over at Luke’s group. ‘Where’s the other girl?’

‘She’s looking after the children,’ said Julia.

‘Oh, right, of course.’ Barnes walked to the front of the podium. The room fell silent. All eyes were on the Major.

‘We’re all now fully aware of the situation,’ he began, ‘and given what we’ve just heard it would seem that we’re on our own. No help will be coming so we have to deal with the situation ourselves. This facility that you’re in was left over from the cold war, it could house a couple of thousand people at a pinch. We have an energy and clean water supply. Food is something we will need to stockpile. This underground shelter was originally built to withstand a nuclear attack and once sealed it is impregnable from the outside, not even a cockroach could get in. We would be able to hold out here until the situation has been brought under control. I propose that we go out on night patrols, as the creatures roost at night, and rescue as many survivors as we can find and bring them back here to safety. We’ll section up the city into areas. Each team will search street by street, crossing them off a map as they go. I’ll hand you over to Sergeant Malloy to give you the details.’

Sergeant Malloy stepped up to the podium. ‘We have vehicles that have been reinforced against attack from the creatures, but because the units based here were needed elsewhere it only leaves twenty-six of us, including Major Barnes and myself. We will need to acquire more vehicles and source as many supplies as possible. As we could be in for a long stay, you civilians will be expected to render your services. Do any of you have any medical experience?’

Julia stepped forward. ‘I do. I’m a nurse and I was a theatre nurse for four years.’

‘Thank you Miss, your services will be invaluable. Any questions?’

Bill put his hand up.

All the soldiers turned to look at him.

‘What weapons have we got?’

‘You’ll be pleased to know, Sergeant Calper, that we have a veritable arsenal to choose from, but we feel that flame throwers will be the most effective against the creatures, given their size. We have enough arms to mount a small war. We also have three tanks, these are being fitted with flame throwers and will lead the convoys. We also have Kevlar suits that should offer some protection. Any other questions?’ He waited a moment. ‘No? Right then. We should get you men kitted out. Private Lock will show you ladies to the kitchens, stores and medical facilities.’

Bill turned to Mike. ‘Never thought I’d be back in uniform again.’

‘Never thought I’d ever be in one,’ Mike laughed.

Luke was stood at the door, biting his nails.

‘We’ll be a lot safer looking for our families with this lot Luke,’ Shaun said.

‘Yeah I suppose you’re right. If they are alive we should find them a lot easier searching for them the way he just said.’

A soldier came over to them. ‘If you lot could follow me I’ll take you to the armoury.’

‘I may be retired but it’s Sergeant to you, private,’ Bill corrected him.

‘Sorry... Sergeant.’

Bill slapped him on the back. ‘Only pulling your leg son. You lead the way.’

The soldier didn’t know whether to laugh or not so he walked out the door followed by Bill and the others.

~

In the armoury, Bill was trying to strap himself into a Kevlar vest. He called over to the soldier sitting on a bench. ‘Is this the biggest size you got?’

‘Afraid so Sarge. We don’t see many soldiers your size,’ he replied, suppressing a smile.

Mike stepped in and helped Bill strap up. ‘It’s a bit tight,’ he laughed, struggling to get the Velcro straps to hold, ‘but it’s better than nothing.’

Shaun and Luke were sitting on a bench dressed in full battle fatigues.

‘I knew it was bad Shaun, but now the whole country’s overrun by the creatures. Where will we go if they can’t beat it? We can’t live down here forever.’

‘Perhaps that Major will get us out, maybe America will take us. I’ve always wanted to go to America.’

‘This is serious Shaun. If this thing is out of control here and the government have left, it could go worldwide. How can they stop it? They dropped that bomb up where Mike and Bill lived. Maybe they’ll bomb the whole country.’

‘We’ll be all right Luke, this place was built for just that. Although I don’t like to think what would be left outside afterwards.’

‘Yeah, but what if we don’t find our parents?’

A soldier came over to them. ‘You two okay?’

‘Yeah, we’re all right,’ Luke said.

‘Come on then, let’s go.’ He turned and walked out and led the way back to the operations room.

As they walked in a silence descended upon the room. All eyes were on Bill.

‘What! It’s not my fault you lot are all bloody midgets.’

Laughter rolled around the room.

‘Bloody midgets,’ Bill cursed.

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