Season Two – Chapter Four

The doors pulled wide before we would slam the central locking into place, Mike and I given no chance to come quietly, hands bundling us to the cold tarmac. I didn’t put up a fight, tried to tell Mike, but knew the words would be in vain. Letting my body relax, I watched as the moments blurred past my eyes, attempting to calm my blood pressure as I tried not to be distracted from details as they played out. My wrists were tied, I could no longer see Mike, but could hear his language explode, the emotion in his words spill out as the ex-Royal Marine gave the young soldiers a verbal beating I hoped stung harder than a punch in the face.

I kept quiet, knew there was no changing the course, instead I watched as they left the van, no one checking for Dan who was surely now secreting himself in the back. Bundled into a waiting Snatch Land Rover, I saw no more as a musty canvas hood pulled down over my head. Mike’s voice stifled, with what remained evaporating into the distance as the engine note rose.

There was no Foot and Mouth Disease.

I’d found what I was looking for.

We didn’t arrive in the car park of the Jamaica Inn, the roads too loose, too uneven. Where we arrived I had no idea, it had taken too long for us to be at the farm in the centre of their exclusion zone. I heard the rattle of a chain link fence, the collective tap tap tap of boots marching on the hard ground, the turn of keys, the rumble of engines and a pervasive odour that smelt like the Portaloos needed emptying.

As the engine cut and light invaded from below, hands helped me to stand, guiding my feet down to the solid ground, not before pulling off my heels, letting my tights split with each step, bright cold air glinting from below, but just for a moment. The air turned warm and the hum of electricity filled my ears, the whine of a generator perhaps or some other powerful equipment. Doors opened and closed at our backs as I counted, the four sets of footsteps the only sound until I flinched back as chair legs scraped along the floor. The hands holding tight at my bound wrists wouldn’t let me budged, instead forced me forward, pushing down until all I could do was bend my knees and sit. With a snap of plastic my hands were free, but not under my control, each wrist driven forward, held firm, but not so much it hurt.

Light poured in as the hood snapped off with a sharp upward pull, my first instinct was to shake away my chaotic hair covering my face, pulling my hands up to bat away the strands, but they wouldn’t come, each tied to metal rings either side of stainless steel desk bolted to the floor. Turning my head around the room, I wasn’t quick enough to see anything but the door at my back slot into place.

I let the irritation on my face pass, moving my head slow so not to aggravate.

The room was a small box with no windows, just the one door, the walls painted white, but dulled with time and a sheen of something that wouldn’t quite clean. Along with the table and my chair, another was opposite, each a cheap plastic seat with metal legs. As I let my mind settle, let myself relax, I tried to silently form the words I would use in the documentary, maybe the film I would release in the cinema. Every few moments Toni’s face would invade my head, my thoughts turning to what I would say when the moment came.

The words dried up as the minutes went by, the dull ache of my filling bladder enough of a distraction to pull me back into the room. The door opened and I took a deep breath, dressed my face in a smile and sat up straight, letting the hand gently push my hair either side of my face and watched as the woman in the white coat sat, her face set in a smile bunching wrinkles in the corner of her eyes. Underneath her white coat was the stiff fabric of a pressed green shirt, exposing a triangle of hanging skin at her neck. When she talked the grey hair at her temples moved.

“Sorry?” I said as I missed her first words. She tilted her head to the side, her smile growing as her eyes told a different story.

“Are you well?” she said. Her squint told me I hadn’t respond in the way she expected.

“You will jail for a very long time,” were my words cutting through my wide smile.

“Are you well, Ms Charmichael?” she said. I stared at her deep green eyes and tried to visualise her in the dock, then in the orange jumpsuit she’d wear for what was left of her life.

“Yes, I’m well,” I replied as she went to repeat the question.

“Could you be pregnant?” she said. I couldn’t hide my reply, my mouth opening to a laugh as my eyes squinted.

“Not a chance,” I said. Her smile dropped and she nodded at something beyond my back, but before I could turn, arms clung around my throat, shoulders hugging tight against my head, dragging me back in the chair, pulling my arms tight against my bound wrists. Straining for what the hands were doing at my side, I couldn’t see my arm but could feel my clothes being cut, could feel the cold of the scissors, the warm air like a blanket as my skin exposed. I saw the syringe flash into view, before it disappeared and I tried to move, tired to thrash away, but only tugged hard, the plastic digging into my wrists.

Our eyes locked as the needle pricked. Warmth raced up my arm and was quickly to my chest, soon blanketing my body from the inside as the lights slowly faded dark.

 

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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.

Not read Season One? Here it is.

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