The woman is called Kate and although I can’t get over my concern about Mum – and my eagerness to see Dad, Harriet and David – I like her and I feel safe in her company. It’s the security of being with someone who knows what’s going on. It seems to be my best bet at the moment. I have so many questions to ask, but I’m trying to stay calm and sensible. I know that if it all comes pouring out the way I’d like it to, we’ll get nowhere.
I want to ask a thousand questions at once and get all the answers right now. Unfortunately, I know that won’t happen. Also, there’s a sense of urgency in this building. Nobody is saying anything; there are no alert signs or anything like that. It’s just the way that people are getting on with their work: they’ve been trained for this and they know exactly what they’re doing.
And here’s another funny thing: all of these people were in the bunker when we were visiting as a family. They are the same people who appeared to be surprised at our presence there. Twenty-four hours earlier they had seemed to be in the wrong place. Now it is quite clear that they were all in the bunker for the same reason. They have jobs to do here. I’m not even sure that they knew each other before this all happened. They’re working together, but there is no easy chat or sense of familiarity. They seem bound now by a common sense of purpose, by work and activities that the all understand. They have all been trained for this. They were expecting it to happen.
The Military Approach
He looked at the picture of Trudie and the kids, then placed it to one side. As a military man, he knew how this worked. Focus on the job and get through it. He’d been away from the family for six months at a time before. They were used to it. They didn’t like it, of course. Who would? So one month away from home – and in the same country? Well that was a luxury compared to a tour of duty. The training had been military in nature, even though he knew it wasn’t Army.
It was probably safer to say that it was a ‘government’ job. But the routines were the same as the Army. The Official Secrets Act and all that. They wanted ex-military people because of the way they’d been trained. This was not a civilian job, it needed military discipline and routines. The biggest difference was that you weren’t a unit. In fact, he hadn’t met anybody connected with this mission yet.
First it was the training. In isolation. He’d felt bad about lying to Trudie, but she knew the score.
It was no different to having to keep quiet about military operations abroad. Every part of him wanted to share this stuff with her, after all they were husband and wife weren’t they? But he’d just told her he’d had to go away for a week to an assessment centre for a new job. She didn’t ask too many questions. Just the obvious ‘Where is it?’, ‘Who is it with?’ and ‘How long are you away?’ She was used to being on her own with the kids, it would just be the same as life in the Army again. Only without the constant worry and the fear that there might be a knock at the door from someone bearing bad news.
The training had been just like old times for him. A functional government building, a purposeful regime and perfunctory relationships with your superiors. Except for that doctor who seemed to be in charge. This man certainly knew his stuff when it came to the tech they were using. But he was an ‘odd one’. He’d really felt uncomfortable whenever this guy was around.
He missed the laughs with his colleagues though. He knew he’d be joining other people for the main operation, but they would not meet before the event. They were to be trained in isolation, via simulations, so that each person knew exactly what to do when all the elements were placed together. This was quite different from military training where they acted as a unit, under central command. It was almost as if no single person was supposed to know exactly what was going on.
If this was the easy bit, she might as well relax and get on with it. She’d had enough experience at work to know that you should take one thing at a time. No point worrying about what might happen next week. Focus on what’s going on now. Whatever was going on with those screens, it was obviously connected with this thing inside her. They wouldn’t tell her what it was, only that it was ‘mission critical’ and non-permanent. How reassuring. When he talked about ‘mission’ she hadn’t a clue what it was. Only that she had no choice but to get involved and to play her part.
It was similar to her short stint in the Army before she met Mike. Following orders, doing what you’re told, never asking questions. It hadn’t really worked out for her then so it was almost a relief when redundancy came. It was one of the shortest military careers in history. Long enough to get a feel for it, not long enough to see any real action. Except for the one mission of course. The one that changed everything.
She wasn’t really the ‘trusting authority’ type. Look at how they’d home educated Dan. Most people don’t even know that’s possible. They just follow the rules, do what everybody else does. And taking David out of school during term time. Okay, these weren’t the crimes of the century. But she had a natural aversion to doing what she was told. Except when the lives of her family were being threatened.
Satellites were relaying these images back to Earth, but there was no one awake to see them.
They were appearing on PC screens, but nobody was able to look at them.
If they could have seen them, they would have wondered how this could have happened. An entire planet plunged into darkness.
The light of the sun was making no impact on that blackness whatsoever, the whole planet had the appearance of being encrusted in a solid, black shroud.
The light just shone behind it, similar to a full eclipse. It looked so still and calm from space, but on the planet surface, Hell had just been let loose.