Season Two – Chapter Thirty Eight

Through the windscreen I watched the white of the police car rise into view. It was the head of a convoy for which I couldn’t make out the tail, with more vehicles rising over the crest as the long line continued towards us. Putting my hand to my ear, I moved my mouth as if I was on the phone, but took the time to let a smile out in the direction of the flowing traffic.

The police car didn’t stop, didn’t pause after the driver glanced in my direction. My eyes turned to the truck at its back and the next as it passed, glimpsing soldiers in full kit in the wing mirror, their faces fixed and serious. The next truck blocked my view and looked back through the windscreen with a warm sensation rising as I counted the trucks full of men who were going to save the day, were going to stop this nightmare, even though they were too late for me.

Truck after truck kept coming, then Land Rovers followed, army vehicles in their wake I couldn’t name, but I could feel the smile stretching out my face until the last truck passed by and another police car followed behind, slowing as the driver caught my eye.

I twitched a grin, kept my mouth still, letting my empty hand drop to my side as I told Toni what was happening. With the car slowing I let the cold in, rolling down the window.

“You got here fast,” the policeman said as he pulled from the car he’d left in the middle of the road. He was older than me, late twenties, his face full of a black beard, the top of his head too. He wore thick, dark rimmed glasses, the kind kids used to get bullied for in my school. “You know there’s a D-Notice in force? You can’t use anything you’ve got.”

I let my on-camera smile through, twitching up the right side of my lips.

“We haven’t got anything,” I said. “I’m supposed to be standing by for when you boys want to announce to the world,” I replied, bunching up my cheeks. “But I don’t much mind for the cold. Do you know any good hotels close?” I added, running my fingers through my hair.

He shook his head, speaking quicker than I expected.

“Don’t stay close,” he said, his smile faltering. I pulled a sharp deep breath, reminding myself to keep it subtle.

“What do you mean? Are you saying the chemical spill is effecting people this far out?” I said, letting my voice rise in pitch as my eyebrows climbed.

The officer looked to his car and his butch female college I hadn’t noticed until now.

“What’s your name, officer?” I said and he returned his look back in my direction, stepping closer to the window.

“Mike,” he replied. The name caught in my head and a paused for a little longer than I should before I replied.

“Nice to meet you Mike,” I said, pushing my hand out through the window. “So where should I stay?” I heard a noise from the back, the sound of a voice quickly muffled. He gave a nervous smile, raising his eyebrows.

“All I’m saying is there’s plenty of nice hotels Exeter-way,” he said, leaning in, trying to peer past me and into the back of the van. “Where’s your man?”

“Excuse me,” I replied, the indignation in my voice not put on. “What could you mean?”

“Sorry, your camera man, I mean, your camera operator,” he said and I watched as he forced a smile to his face, his cheeks reddening. I flinched to the police car as the passenger door opened and his female colleague stepped out, with her barrel like chest, not helped by the body armour. I heard what sounded like something heavy dropping to the floor, the van rocking for a moment and footsteps walked from behind. A deeper version of Toni’s voice soon came from over my shoulder.

“Camera woman,” she said and I turned to see her stroking a grey furry windshield from a stick microphone.

The policeman gave a wry smile, his eyes narrow, mine too. She looked like a feral child with her face still covered and lined with ash, but worse, as she turned we saw to the right of her cheek, a line of blood dripping from near the corner of her eye, smudged in several places across her face.

 

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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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