The Exit Plan
Chapter 29 The Exit Plan
John was a big man. Faye had been unable to get her mentor into the cottage alone so had sought the help of the publican. They stood together looking down on the prostrate figure on the living room couch.
“In quite bit of pain.” whispered John not knowing what to suggest, “Should be in hospital.”
“No can do. ” Faye stated bluntly making it clear by her tone it was out of the question.
“Mrs Potts?” asked John.
Just then the front door rattled with the sound of keys sliding into place.
“That should be her.” signalled Faye with utter relief.
Mrs Maggie Potts had some strange habits one of which was to always wear a coat. The coat was either blue or green but she always wore one no matter the weather. So it was on that hot afternoon she entered the small living room with her green coat fully buttoned looking grave.
“What is wrong ?” she asked following the urgent summons from Faye.
The young woman rushed to her as if mother had arrived to fix everything.
“He has been shot, what do we do?” begged Faye.
Nodding to acknowledge John the middle aged woman asked,
“As he said anything?”
“He mutters something,” said Faye.
“I think is first....something, first a..” answered John.
“First Aid,” snapped Mrs Potts, “of course.” Her mood brightened immediately giving relief to those around her.
“John, watch him, make sure he does not move. Young Lady with me.” Mrs Potts was now in control.
Upstairs in the master bedroom, she sent Faye under the bed like a terrier after rabbits.
The quest was for a grey box a bit larger than a shoe box but there were boxes of all sorts and sizes stored under this large bed.
“I stuck a paper with a red cross on it.” protested Mrs Potts when Faye complained of the complexity of searching for something she had no idea what it looked like.
“Got it” screamed Faye with some excitement and emerges pushing a box on the carpet.
Mrs Potts grabbed it and was on her way downstairs before the girl got to her feet. It transpired the box was anything but ordinary. It was a box without a lock but would not open. It was a box with no apparent lid, bottom or top. It was a featureless box. Only the childish red cross scratched on white paper blue-tact to the lid was ordinary.
But Mrs Potts had been here before. With great gusto she ripped the paper Red Cross from the box then told John to hold the box next to their patient. Next she took the sick man’s hand and placed the thumb in the centre of the box. To Faye’s amazement and John’s shock there was a loud click.
Now the box, without a lock was unlocked.
Inside were numerous items only one of which, a syringe , did Faye recognise. The housekeeper seized this and quickly filled with it from what resembled a tube of toothpaste. A pink liquid filled the small syringe which she then plunged into the patients arm. Retracting the empty syringe Mrs Potts suddenly lost her confidence.
John impressed with the efficiency of Mrs Potts remarked ” Me thinks ye have done that before.”
“Yes,” acknowledge the woman “but now we enter the world of theory.”
Her little plump fingers pawed the contents of the box, picking up and examining various items as if trying the remember something. It was as if she had met someone in the street but could not place them, their name just beyond recall.
This had the effect of draining confidence from her two onlookers. At last she settled on two items, a glass gun shaped instrument quite small in size and a metal tube that rattled. Placing these on a nearby coffee table she ordered Fay to get a bowl of hot water and clean towels. Amazingly no one had bothered or had the courage to look at the wound so Mrs Potts ordered John to remove the shirt.
The sight that greeted them was both horrific and good. Horrific in that it was a bloody mess but good in that the blood was old, the wound itself oozing slowly to the point of full stop. A swelling was on his right side while only Faye notice he did not have a belly button.
Slowly with feminine care it was Faye who washed the wound while Mrs Potts examined the glass contraption she was about to use.
“God, I hope I have got this right.” she said to herself.
Opening the metal tube she removed a lozenger type pill and placed it in the end of the glass gun. Then she placed the other end of the gun thing against the wound.
“Stand back” she said to the others.
She turned her head away so as not to look then fired.
A scream of pure pain echoed around the room and then silence.
“Have we you killed him?” asked Faye.
John placed a hand on the patients chest and said he was still breathing.
“There, there is no more I can do ” announced Mrs Potts, “Now I suggest you two take that vending machine van back whence it came, the least that is seen around here the better.”
A little before 6 the young woman returned minus John.
“Gone to work in the pub.” explained Faye as Mrs Potts looks at her with a slightly puzzled look.
Little had changed in the patient since she had been gone except he sported a clean shirt and his face had been washed. He was still asleep.
Mrs Potts made a pot of tea and they retired to the kitchen, it taking some coxing on Mrs Potts part to get Faye to leave Mr Winthrope. The older woman could see the young woman was full of worry and close to tears.
“He won’t die will he? I don’t want him to die!” she implored of Mrs Potts fluid filling her eyes.
“We will have to wait and see, ” said the ever practical Mrs Potts, “there is magic in that box.”
Wanting to placate the young lass Mrs Potts said,
“He was stabbed once, come here with more blood than that. ”
“Really?” the girl looked up from her mug of tea and a little bit of hope showed in her face.
“I, proper bad, like.” continued the older woman telling a small white lie for she knew this injury was far more life threatening.
“How? ” quizzed the girl, “How stabbed?”
“Oh, let’s see.” Mrs Potts stalled while she recalled the incident.
“Working late at the hospital, some youths, all black came out of the dark shadows, he never saw them. They wanted him to get drugs, said they would pay him to steal them.”
The middle aged lady stopped, took a long slow drink of her tea then proceeded.
“He told them no and knowing him he probably told them were they were going wrong in life. But the thing is, to these criminals it is their way of life , their job and telling them what you think is not a good idea. Anyways, they up and stabbed him. He got back here and told me about the box. That time I puts and clear plastic over the wound , the pain killer in the tube and the syringe and Bob’s your uncle, he was fine by mornin, no scar no nothing.”
“Can we not use the film now?” beseeched the girl alive with the possibility of recovery.
“I don’t think so, that bullet has got to come out, the film seals things up. I had to guess most of what I have done. He told me how to inject the pill with the gun, but I ain’t done it before. My guess is he will wake soon and tell us what to do. ”
“Please tell me he will be OK?”
“Gosh girl you really do care for him, like he was your father and all.”
Suddenly the girl let the tears flow, “He is, he is.”
Mrs Potts sat there a little stunned and mystified then the girl dabbed her face with a tissue and explained.
“He is the father I never had. My life was really shitty until I met him. He is may Dad, my Pappa, my Padre, all the names for father. He is my mentor and roll model. If he had not come along.....”
Faye paused trying to collect herself, her eyes red with the crying.
Mrs Potts rose and placed her arms around her, pulling her close to her.
“Hell girl, if God put you two together to help each other , I doubt he will break up such a perfect friendship so soon.”
Then Mrs Potts made a mistake.
“Well, if it is any consolation he told me if anything should happen to him he had made good provision for your welfare.”
Almost immediately the young woman looked up in horror at the older woman and pushing her away screaming,
“This isn’t about the fucking money, I want him , I want him by my side , I want his wisdom, I want his warmth, guidance I want .... I want.... I want. ” she faded with the effort then concluded, “I do not want his money.”
“I never said you did.” offered Mrs Potts desperately trying to recover the situation.
It was a loud groan and the sound of movement from the living room that rescued Mrs Potts.
He sat up somewhat disorientated looking around the room as if seeing it for the first time. A broad smile crept across his face as he gazed on the his two nurses.
“Well, thought I heard someone swearing.” he said at long last, “I take it, Mrs Potts, you gave me painkiller Number 5 and a regeneration bullet?”
“I did Sir” answered Mrs Potts beaming with relief, “like you told me to.”
Faye felt embarrassed at using the f word.
“Thank you, thank you both.” he reached out a hand and took the hand of Faye giving it a quick re-assuring squeeze. It meant the world to her.
“First, a diagnosis, let us see how bad it is.” he announced.
From the magic box he requested a brown square box the size of a thick paperback book. Inside was another white box of almost equal size. This he placed over his wound and almost immediately lights appeared around the edges. It flashed twice and then whole thing turned a pale blue before going into traffic light red. Staying red for perhaps two minutes it eventually turned white again giving a bleep as it did so. Faye noticed strange writing materialised over its surface.
Mr Winthorpe appeared to be able to read this writing for he frowned and threw his head back on the pillow with a groan.
“How is it?” asked Mrs Potts in an anxiety driven tone.
“It is not good.” he said at last raising his hand to stop them speaking.
“We need something out of the attic.” he announced with his head still on the pillow, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. They looked at him puzzled both wondering what on earth was in the attic.
This time it was a real shoebox with a proper lid, pale green in colour and very dusty. Around it resembling a parcel was a thin pink ribbon with a wax seal identical to those found on ancient documents. It was unbroken.
Clive Winthorpe wanted to open it but was too weak it dawning on him that Mrs Potts had over done the pain killer a tad. He gave the shoe box to Faye.
Inside she found a number of A4 sheets covered in print. There was also an envelope, pure white with dark blue writing in a neat, precise hand. On the front was some strange writing underneath which, in brackets were the words ‘Exit Plan’.
“Open it Girl” commanded Mrs Potts who appeared either anxious or excited it was difficult to say which or possibly a strange mixture of both emotions consumed her.
One sheet of lined paper decorated in very precise italic hand written words.
“Read it to me please” he requested.
Faye began slowly to read the letter:-
"My Dear Son,
As you know I hate long speeches, long letters and cats. Hence I will be brief. I write this in case we are apart and you may have the need to return to the land of your birth. I write in English for I fear your need to return home may be due to ill health, of a grievous nature or mortal injury both necessitating human help. Please, I beg you not to return unless circumstance here are grave.
However, if you have to return seek out a solicitors by the name of Finch,Welbeck and Grey late of Wind Street, Manchester. They have a key for a storage unit, the address, and money. Use the code Firefly Project and password , 5NXD12.
In the storage unit you will find the equipment needed to open a passing point and a manual. Because I do not have access to sophisticated technology the apparatus is bulky and heavy. You will need help. Finch, Welbeck and Grey will supply a van for transportation but I suggest you borrow one if you can for security reasons..
Now for the passing points. Since I do not know when you will need to travel I hereby enclose two vital bits of information. Firstly, basic computer code containing the mathematical formula needed for the calculations that will run on any binary silicone system likely to exist for the next 20 years. Humans are not going to have quantum computers for years at their present speed of progress. Load the code into the boot program of any digital computer and it will run. It will also need the data set which is included. Because I do not know what system of electronic storage will be used in the future the data set will have to be manually put into a file so the program can do the required calculations. The output is the longitude and latitude on any passing points to the date you require. You already have a date set in your head, remember the farm animals.
If you make it to Kron9 seek out the cave with two teeth. There will be help there.
All my Love
Fayle looked up from the page, her face one of grey anguish.
“You are leaving us?” she stabbed accusingly.
“I am sorry” he stated his head back on a cushion looking at the ceiling. He could not bear to look at his two helpers.
“I will not last 48 hours with this injury and there is no one on this planet with the skill or equipment it fix it. The farm animals are a series of dates, a story to memorise numbers. I must travel tomorrow.”
Mrs Potts and Faye looked at each other in dismay.
“Shit” said Faye then immediately before he could reprimand her she said, “Sorry, I mean dam.”
Skip was in boxer shorts and a T-shirt with the slogan “The Devil is Below” across the front. Clean shaven normally he now had brown marks around his mouth that at first glance looked like an embryonic beard. It was in fact chocolate from a large chocolate ice-cream.
Her insistent banging on his door and her pleading had forced him to relent and admit a lone female to his inner domain. The result was utter anxiety in his being.
‘What if she made accusations of a sexual nature he thought?. What if she claimed ....oh my she could say anything and they would believe her.’ All these thoughts hammered through his brain one after another. So it was he cowered at his desk telling her not to come any further than the entrance.
“We can talk from here, you stay put.” he demanded clearly well out his comfort zone.
“I want you to look at this.” she said offering him some of the A4 papers.
Like a mouse making a dash for the cheese he scampered out of his chair, snatched the papers and scurried back to his chair.
He studied them all the while holding one hand up saying, “Don’t come any closer.”
Eventually he held one paper in the air proclaiming,
“This is machine code, a kind of assembly language, very sophisticated. Only a real nerd could read this, if at all.”
“You are a nerd.” she said softly.
“Who gave you this?” he enquires as his curiosity overcomes his fear.
“Can you fit it into a boot program.” she asks not really knowing what she was asking.
Skip makes a whistling noise as he draws air through his teeth.
Silence fills the room then he looks up and for the first time studies her face.
“This will run like stink and once running there will be no stopping it. What exactly does it do and it refers to a file. What file?”
The teenage girl takes a cautionary step into the room and pauses waiting for an outburst.
There is no outburst so she takes another step, then another.
She stands by him now. He is like a bird she thinks, ready to take flight but he stays rooted to his perch.
“Here” she hands him the rest of the papers , the ones with numbers, nothing but numbers.
“Jesus” says he looking up, “what is the output from all this?”
“co-ordinates.” she says forcefully.
Waiting to make sure the bird is not going to fly away she presses on
“A very mutual friend is very seriously ill and needs to go somewhere safe. This program and data set is his only hope.”
He looks up at her, studying both her face and form. She is very close.
“It will take two of us, one to input , one to check.”
“Pull up a chair ” he says sheepishly his fear abating.
She picks up a tissue.
“Please,” she says very gently, “Let me wipe your face?”
‘Maggie’ he had said, ‘Maggie of all things.’ she could not believe her ears. He had never called her that in all the time she had worked for him. ’My, my she thought, this must be very serious.”
She was pleased with herself for she had found the phone number for the solicitors and made an appointment early the next morning. She approached him with in trepidation for she feared more bad news.
He had taken her hand as he lay on the couch.
“Now that Faye is away with the computer stuff, I need to tell you my plan. Promise me you will do as I ask.”
“Certainly” she replied.
“Just in case the people who shot me have our scent and come calling I want you to settle Faye in The Lone fox for the night.”
“What, with John?” she sounded amazed.
“Yes, her safety is of utmost importance, as is yours.”
“She will not like that one bit.”
“There is more she will not like for I intend to leave early in the morning without her.”
“But your condition, you need our help!” protested Mrs Potts.
Mr Winthorpe squeezes her hand again saying, “I am a target, if we are apart she is safer than with me, but I cannot manage without her so I intend to minimise our risk.”
Mrs Potts frowns saying “That don’t make sense.”
“When she returns with the co-ordinates there will be more than one I can choose. The chances are the opposition will guess I have to make the journey home and will try to guess at which point on the map I will go for. I intend to let lady luck in the form of dice, do it for me, so to some extent they cannot work it out. Then again depending on the co-ordinates I may have no choice.”
Mrs Potts went to speak but he was too quick for her.
“Now here.” he hands her a small black box. “I have another identical, it will transmit my location, encrypted, and she must bring the van with the equipment to that location. No one, will know that location until the very last opportunity , certainly not Faye or anyone else. It minimises risk don’t you see.”
“I , that I do Sir, but she ain’t going to like it.”
“I will write out exactly what she must do.”
“Sir, this place you are going will you be welcomed there?”
He smiled at her then said,
“With open arms.”
He felt guilty for telling such a whale of a lie.