Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

‘The Companion’: chapter 44 (content warning: racist language)

Wolf’s troops would do anything that night to avoid standing guard or going on patrol.  Those who were disappointed to find that the Blue Sky Taverna was full to bursting were relieved to find that The King’s Head, though less brightly-lit, was nearby, and was open, well-stocked, and had a cavernously large interior.  The sign above the door was a creditable portrait of Kelvin, in mediaeval costume, complete with chain mail, surcoat and crown, painted by me. 

My first task that evening was to finish counting the invaders and, as soon as I had a reliable number, report it to Kelvin and to McCann.  The provisional figure was 2,395.  Those who had been detained longest on board ship with menial tasks spilled out onto the quayside and the narrow streets.  Queues started to form.  There was a queue for the phone box, a queue to get into The Blue Sky Taverna, a queue to get into The King’s Head, and queues for stalls and handcarts selling various kinds of deep-fried or sugary food and alcoholic drink.  The queue for Starlight Escorts was limited by the availability of the phone box, but it was swelled by hopefuls who did not have a booking and had not yet learnt how fatal that was.  Many of the men were asking if there was any other way of getting hold of Anna.  No-one had the foggiest idea.

I needed to find out what was happening to the prisoners taken from I-2 and I-13.  I had not seen them being taken out of the ships.  I did not at that moment know how many invaders were guarding them.  I sent Olivia to have a look.  She stood next to the first ship, listened carefully, and put her face right up against the side.  She detected nothing.  The same happened at the second ship.  At the third ship, she found cargo.  The cargo was abused and brutalised, mostly female, humanity.  Olivia untied the ship from the bollards.  She pulled up and discarded the walkway, and jumped noiselessly into the water.  When she surfaced on the other side of the ship, she climbed up its wooden side by gripping it with hands augmented by short, sharp titanium spikes.  She peered down over the handrail, and saw three guards, each with an automatic rifle.  The guards were not doing anything.  At least one of them appeared to be asleep.  Olivia studied the positions of the guards for a moment, received a projection from me about which areas they could see, and tipped herself over the rail into the vessel.  She climbed down into the hold. 

Once in the well of the hold, she could present a silhouette which would look to a guard like a bound and agonised prisoner changing position.  She moved over to guard number one, and tapped him sharply on the calf.  The tap injected 12 milligrams of a marine toxin which was enough to paralyse him in two minutes while he was still trying to work out what had happened, and kill him in ten minutes.  Olivia crawled and staggered and jerked over to the second guard, and did the same to him.   While guards one and two lay dying, Olivia stood up and walked as normally as she could (given that the cargo deck was covered in the bodies of prostrated prisoners) over to guard three.  She tugged his trouser-leg.  She tugged it insistently.  He woke up. He looked bleary-eyed.  He looked annoyed.  He looked surprised.  He sat up and tried to aim his automatic rifle.

Very, very quickly, Olivia held his right shin in her right hand, very, very tightly, stopping the man’s circulation, lacerating the muscle and traumatising the bone .  He gasped with pain.  He tried to concentrate on aiming his automatic rifle at this woman who was too close for him to miss.  He decided he was definitely going to pull the trigger and spray her with bullets at the first possible opportunity. 

While these deliberations were going on, Olivia brought down her left hand very, very fast.  Olivia’s left hand was very heavy, and very hard.  Olivia’s left arm was very strong.  There was a crack.  Olivia’s arcing attack motion followed through on itself, and the sentry’s lower leg snapped off.  His booted foot hung limply, pointing in the wrong direction.  His trigger-finger never received the impulse to fire his weapon.  He passed out, and died shortly afterwards of blood loss and general trauma. 

The blood-spattered Olivia climbed up to the bridge of the ship and began to steer.  The ship moved out of the harbour, up the coast, and to another harbour where there were no invaders. 

Wolf  re-emerged from his investigation of the quayside arsenal and looked around at the men standing, sitting, and leaning against walls.  He wore an expression of snarling disapproval.  He took his baton out from where kept it sheathed in his left boot.  He still held his automatic pistol.  For a while, I shut down a few of the data feeds I was monitoring to enable me to concentrate on Wolf and Brunton. Brunton looked full of uncertainty.  A detachment of the Racial Guardians in their black uniforms were loosely clustered round the two officers.  At that moment, the attention of every invader was jolted by a sudden noise.  They had not noticed until then that, among the street lights and on the corners of some of the buildings were loudspeakers.  From these, an announcement blared.  The voice was that of John Mallard, the lawyer. 

‘Visitors, please hear this.  My name is John Mallard.  I am the honorary mayor.  Welcome to our town.  We hope you have a pleasant stay.  We have arranged billets for you all.  I need to talk to your leader face-to-face to discuss the terms of your occupation.  Please let your leader come forward, and meet me by the flagpole in front of the mayor’s office as soon as possible.  As soon as possible.  Thank you.’ 

Everybody looked at Wolf.  Most of the faces were apprehensive, as if the Leader might be about to do something that his followers would regret. 

Rain began to fall, and quickly became heavy.  The men backed into doorways for shelter wherever they could.  They wanted beds, hot food, beer and, if possible, women.  Wolf sneered at them, and judged that the weaknesses of appetite and desire were driving the Spirit of National Socialism out of his followers.  He walked a short distance away from the key, and saw the stout figure of John Mallard waiting by the flagpole.  He was wearing an overcoat and holding an umbrella.  Wolf drew nearer.  He appraised Mallard’s appearance: he was affluent, educated, upper-class, self-confident, perhaps a bit eccentric, and possibly Jewish – everything that Wolf  hated.  He was also imperturbably red-faced and cheerful, in spite of the wind and the rain. 

I watched them into “the mayor’s office”, and then switched viewpoint to the cams inside the makeshift building.  The “office” was well-lit, and it was easier to see clearly in there. 

Mallard took his coat off, and offered to take Wolf’s  military greatcoat.  The invader stood there in his black tunic, black breeches and black jackboots.  His right side was towards the camera, and I could see every detail of his swastika armband.  Mallard offered him a glass of whisky, which he declined venomously. 

‘We can accommodate you here for up to seven days.’

‘You can accommodate me here for as long as I like, you mean.’

‘Can’t be done, old man: food situation, you see. ‘

‘What are you talking about, you filthy kike?’

‘Ahem.  I’m talking about food, old man.  It is in limited supply.  You’ll need to move on.’

‘I’ll stay here as long as I like.  You are going to get me all the food I want.’

‘Er.  OK.  If you insist.  I have to warn you, that if we have to scour the surrounding countryside, some of it might not be exactly cordon bleu, if you get me.’

‘You will supply my men with adequate food for as many days as I tell you.  Is that clear?’

‘Absolutely.  Crystal.  Yes.  Glad we had this little chat.  When are you going to move your force?’

‘When I am good and ready.  My men need – how shall I put it – recreation.’

‘Oh, splendid.  They’ll get all the recreation they want here.’

‘I’m glad to hear it.’


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