Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

‘The Companion’: chapter 45

Here is another one of Kelvin’s buzzwords: extracted.  John Mallard was extracted.  My word, he was angry.  Being called a “kike” was something he did not like in the least little bit. 

Just now we are sending food in.  They are having roast pork, roast potatoes, bread, gravy, beer, whisky, and vodka.  We are also supplying them with cotton-covered mattresses, stuffed with straw, and blankets.  They have not thanked us, presumably because they have not bothered to notice it, for the electricity we have been supplying them with. 

We have built them a large concrete vessel near the square at the centre of Hardboard City, and filled it with nice warm water.  None of them has enquired how the water is heated.  The vertical sides of the vessel are very smooth, and it is accessed by means of two sets of rungs set into the concrete.  On one of my microphones, I can hear the childish sounds of naked men bathing outside in the rain.  Kelvin has a map of Hardboard City on the wall of his headquarters, and this structure appears on it with the label “the Kettle”. 

Anna’s establishment is doing a roaring trade, but at no financial profit.  She has been prevailed upon (ostensibly because of the good offices of John Mallard) to arrange for her ladies to provide their services free of charge for twenty-four hours.  This represents the overlap between the welcome stage (which Kelvin calls Operation Doormat) and the offensive stage (Operation Meat-grinder).  The first action of Meat-grinder is being carried out now, by Layla, Kyla, Jade, Cindy, Grace, Angel, and Olivia (who was flown back after she had showered the blood off and changed her clothes).  Their vaginas, anuses and mouths have become the delivery system for a biological weapon: a strain of gonorrhoea genetically-modified by me so that it is resistant to all common antibiotics.  The normal, unhurried service offered by Starlight Escorts has changed format to a series of ten-minute quickies, to accelerate the rate of infection.  They are going to work continuously (they are young ladies of great energy and stamina) and, assuming no repeat visits, they will infect a thousand men between them.  They are not only attacking the enemy, they are greatly aiding me in identifying them as individuals. 

I wonder how long it will be before Wolf  notices that we have taken one of our ships back. 

I wonder when I should tell Kelvin about Horace. 


Get a load of Kelvin in his uniform.  He has let me visit him at his “headquarters”, which are near the “front”.   That is a military term.  I have no idea what it means.  There doesn’t seem to be anything called the “back”. 

I told him I needed some photographs.  He changed into what he calls his “DPM” uniform (I think that stands for Deliciously Primitive Man) and let me take pictures of him firing his rifle.  I don’t mean that to sound filthy: I mean he was literally firing his rifle.  I went completely weak at the knees.  He is the King, and he is a warrior.  My circulation figures have doubled since the invasion happened. 

I think it is partly the beret.  There is something very stylish about the beret.  And he has had his hair cut very short.  It makes you want to run your fingertips over it.  God knows how he gets his boots so shiny.  He must polish them for hours.  I wonder why it is so important in a war to have shiny shoes. 


I can’t bear this.  I can’t bear it.  I know this is war, and I know Layla has a mission to fulfil,  just like every-one else, and I know that I have got a lot of work to do on the booby-traps and helping Violet with Operation Meat-grinder, but I can’t deny how I feel.  I love Layla.  I love her.  I keep saying, pull yourself together, Ben; focus, Ben; concentrate, Ben, but it’s no good: I can’t stop thinking about her.  I didn’t sleep a wink last night.  I got up at 0330 because it was a waste of time being in the sack. 

I told Violet.  She looked at me as if I was crazy.  She said, ‘You know that she’s an android.’  I said I did.  Then I said, ‘Aren’t you an android?’  She looked really annoyed then.  She said, ‘Yes, I am an android, but I am much more sophisticated than Layla.  I have a proper brain and can think independently.  Layla is controlled by a computer, which pretty much does what it is programmed to do’.  Do you know what I asked her then?  I could not help it: it just came out, and I couldn’t stop myself from saying it.  I said, ‘Can she be programmed to love me?’  Violet said, ‘If that’s what you really want, then yes.’

This is no good.  Brooding is no good.  I’ve got work to do.  I’ve got bottles, tins, cigarette packets, loaves of bread and salamis to put bombs inside.  I’ve got chewing gum, condoms, beer and whisky to poison, and joints of pork to inject with bacterial culture.  The culture has been grown by Violet in her laboratory.  She asked me once if I wanted to look round it, but I said no.  A man might not come out alive from that place.  She makes Doctor Frankenstein look like your local GP.  Layla isn’t like that.  Layla is gentle and kind.  She has beautiful, slender fingers,  and when she looks at me and bites her lip like that…  Come on, Ben: get back to work. 

If any of those bastards hurts her, I’ll slaughter every last fucking one of them. 


Why is there no barbed wire in this town?  At least I have found some cannon shells, which is something.  I knew that I would find a solution to the problem.  I am letting the men off duty today, apart from a few patrols, but it will be back to work tomorrow.  I will get the tank crew to do a test-firing.  I’ll make sure that some of the locals see it.  That will give them something to remember. 

But I need barbed wire.  I want to set some of the men to work on building the first camp.  I’ll get Cartwright to make a gate, and a sign to go over it.  It will say WORK MEANS FREEDOM, of course. 

I have been lenient with the locals here, because the men were tired and they needed a rest.  But they will learn what National Socialist harshness means.  I will make sure of that. 

I will make it an offence punishable by a severe beating to walk past me in the street without giving the National Socialist salute, and saying Hail Wolf  respectfully and with conviction. 


The leader of the invaders is an idiot.  I told Mallard to tell him that he couldn’t stay in Hardboard City, and so he insisted that he would stay there as long as he liked.  He has sent out a few desultory patrols, but they strayed such short distances from the built-up area that we did not even bother trying to intercept them.  They were more like gentle strolls than military patrols. 

I can’t wait to start Operation Meat-grinder

Violet told me by radio that she has something very important to tell me when the conflict is over, but she would not give me any clue as to what it is. 



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